Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be lawyers

I went to dinner the other night with some lawyer homies.  As was inevitable, we started to complain about our jobs.

Rodrigo has a case where the litigant writes, "LIES LIES LIES!!!" all over the pleadings whenever he disagrees with a statement.

Aidan has one where a pro se opponent ends every pleading with, "Let justice be had, let justice be had, let justice be had."  That same litigant poses and answers rhetorical questions in his pleadings.  Example: "Is this justice, I say?  No!  It is not justice!"

Sally had a client call her after she filed a complaint to ask, "So, um, do we have to prove all this with evidence at the trial?"

And when Sally said yes, the client said, "We can always amend the complaint, right?"

Lacey has had dozens of clients come to her with super sad stories that get her incredibly enraged.  She is the person who went to law school to help people and then ACTUALLY HELPED THEM, after all.  But you can imagine it might be frustrating to do a whole bunch of work and research on a case, and then find out ... "Oh, so you punched your boss in the face, then he said that racist/sexist/homophobic thing.  Yeah, he can still fire you for that."

And Jamie once had to run to a temporary restraining order hearing as a personal favor.  Jamie didn't want to to do it--who wants to argue a TRO she didn't prepare?--but it sounded like a dire situation.  (Another lawyer, who was not going to be able to attend, told her an ex-boyfriend was threatening to kill a teenage girl.  DIRE.)

Of course her clients didn't arrive on time to let her know the basis of the TRO.  (So much for the dire situation, I guess.)  An hour ticked by as Jamie desperately tried to call someone else's clients.  When they did show up, it was fifteen minutes from the hearing and Jamie was thisclose to losing her mind.

For all the non-lawyers out there, TROs are hard to get---but even if they weren't hard, no baby lawyer like us wants to go in front of a judge and explain ANYTHING, much less something difficult, much less something difficult that you know nothing about

So Jamie told her client to quickly explain the basis for her TRO, and the girl and her family launched into a litany of complaints.  He threatened to kill her!  In a text!  And then on the phone!  And it was speaker phone, so I heard it too!

And when Jamie began to explain all this to the judge a few minutes later, the first question he asked was, "Do you have the text messages?"

Jamie turned to the client--Do we have the text messages?!--and the girl promptly handed over her phone.  Jamie raced it up to the judge.  

The judge looked down at the phone.  "'Don't come around here anymore, or I am going to fu**ing remove your head from your ass,'" he read.

He looked up at Jamie.  "Anything else, counselor?" he asked dryly.


  1. Or the time I sent documents to our attorney for review prior to executing an Administrative Order and she changed the name of the division I work for to another division that does not have primacy. Thank Elvis our underpaid receptionist caught it.

    Seriously though, I have a deep and abiding love for attorneys and what they do. It's important and most people don't realize how the law protects them on a daily basis. I wish I was masochistic enough to go to Lawyer School.

  2. Yep, yep. I hear ya'.

    While working at (nameless) NYC big law firm in my first year, a bunch of associates were helping with a deal closing. The head partner on the deal walked into the conference room at 3am,'pointed at one of my friends (a fellow associate on the deal) and said "Is he with us?". Nice and demeaning.....

  3. I have little patience for crazy, but as it turns out, there are very, very few occupations in this world that are free from it.

    (Working in an insurance office for four years I came across a lot of people who are similar to the ones you described. There was a lot of "sure, that's the rule, but why should I follow it? Please? Just this once make an exception that goes against company policy? What, you mean that's against the law? That's no fair!" and etc.)

  4. I actually hired a lawyer to argue a child support case for me since the money involved was substantial.

    At one point in the trial the lawyer quoted a statute of law [is that the right term?] and the judge said "Oh really? Why don't we look that up, shall we?" to my lawyer.

    The judge, knowing my lawyer had it wrong, read him the statute - whatever - and the one my lawyer had mentioned had to do juvenile crime or something. [We were in J&D] I asked the judge if I could speak instead. My ex couldn't prove he had paid, we won - I fired my lawyer and still owed him about 30% of the amount I collected. This doesn't make me bitter, regardless of what anyone thinks, it just makes me more wise. And poor.

    I have to add - that our lawyer was very well known in this particular field and a client of my husband's. I didn't hire him lightly. We knew him.

    It is just another side of the coin kind of thing - I can't imagine what you all have to go through, but it is almost impossible to be heard before a judge without a lawyer where we live - and heaven forbid you get a lawyer that is "out of county" - It's a joke.

    I do agree that lawyers are necessary but sometimes that necessity can be a little bit evil.

  5. Everyone hates lawyers until they need one. Then they just hate the one they have.

    My client's girlfriend said that, if I was a good attorney, I'd have gotten him off, since she was guilty once and HER lawyer got HER off. I guess a good attorney could have made that confession just go away....

  6. NOW I remember why I didn't go to law school.

    Oh, wait. That's not why. But it sure doesn't make me regret it!

  7. Or that time opposing counsel tried to argue his client actually did the guy a favor by punching him so hard it permanently disfigured his face because according to some random psychology journal "Men with facial scars are more attractive to women in short term relationships."

  8. Ha! You just reminded me why I don't practice law--even though I did go to law school.

  9. That's why I never want to practice criminal or family law. I think I'd be fine with something nice and boring like tax or trademark law... a slightly lower proportion of crazies.

  10. To be fair, fun stories like this (and the ones so generously shared by Jeanmarie, Robin and Brooke) are the best part of being a lawyer ... that and all that prestige we get from the public for preserving Constitutional liberties and the adversarial justice system. Sweet, sweet prestige.

  11. Ugh!! I'm an ex-lawyer (blissfully ex). It's so frustrating, and you never get to have the Virgin Mary as your client. Never. Dammit.


  12. Ru--plus, we get to say cool things like "I'm headed to court" and "I'm with a client." And "Objection!"

    Balm of Gilead.

  13. Hahaha.... this post cracks me up!

    But then I remember... I'm a lawyer too. Now why did I want to do this again?