This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trial Fail

I was in court this week for my first trial ever. I generally kill trials, just my very existence makes them not happen. Nine years in the legal profession, dozens and dozens of cases prepped for trial, witnesses subpoenaed, exhibits prepared, all ready to go, and all have been canceled. Whether it settled (or pleaded out) last-minute, or some catastrophic event causes the cancellation the day-of, I'm generally just all dressed up with nowhere to go. But we actually made it to trial on Monday for a wrongful termination case. Got through the whole thing. The jury deliberated for nearly four hours. It was a unanimous verdict... just not in our favor.

It totally sucks. Boss Dude was awesome. He is the zen master, and me merely his grasshopper. I can only hope that someday I will be a fraction of the awesome as a trial attorney. But, alas, it was not to be. Apparently the jury did not feel that our client missed work for reasons related to a medical disability, so it was okay for them to fire her for taking off for medical appointments. I just feel really bad for her. It's one thing to be fired from your job for bad reasons, lose your health benefits when you need ongoing medical treatment, and then you can't find a new job because the economy sucks. It's another thing to go to trial over it and have to face a parade of your coworkers and managers as they nitpick every single thing you ever did wrong during the time you worked there, and as they continuously say nasty things about you, because they want to say they didn't fire you for missing work, they fired you because you suck.

And that would be why I didn't make a stink when Asshole Insurance Defense Firm pushed me out during my maternity leave. Right now I have at least a good reference from them, because it was all just a silly mix-up, right? They thought I wasn't coming back after the baby was born, so they replaced me. Oops! Nothing personal! And then I found another job and all is good. Even though there were emails back and forth about what date I was returning from maternity leave. Even though most summer jobs had already been filled because they didn't bother to tell me I didn't have a job until the end of February. Even though not long after I was told I didn't have a job because they thought I wasn't coming back and so they hired someone else, they had the nerve to put out a resume request to the law school for a new clerk.

How do I tell someone that in a job interview and not make it seem like I'm bad-mouthing my former employer? I don't. My official story is I had worked years in insurance defense and wanted to give plaintiff's work/something else a try, rather than acknowledging the humiliation of being pushed out during my maternity leave by a firm I constantly defended whenever my coworkers complained about it. I was absolutely the loyal "company girl." And then they absolutely fucked me. However, if I pursued a claim that I was dismissed because I procreated, suddenly I'd become the worst law clerk in the history of the world. And all those people I thought were my friends, and always praised my work, and chipped in to buy me a wedding gift and later a baby shower gift, and my bosses who wrote me letters of recommendation to law school and graduate school and who I still use as references because they will give me glowing recommendations, would suddenly be testifying under oath about how I totally suck. And I would probably believe it; even though I generally have rather good self-esteem, I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to the quality of my work. (Thank you, Law School.) I would probably be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life after that experience. But at the same time, by not pursuing it, I sent the message that it was okay that they fired a pregnant woman, when they didn't even have the balls to actually fire me.

Anyway, employment law is tough. It's just very personal. That seems silly that work is so personal, but it really is, at least to me. I like it, don't get me wrong, but it was emotionally exhausting to try this case, and I don't anticipate that will change.

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