Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sink or Swim

My firm is heavy on the 'sink or swim'  credo -- in that, there's not a lot of training, but a liberal amount of "you really screwed that one" if, indeed, one does proverbially 'screw the pooch'.   I had been practicing law for a grand total of three (3) months when I was given my first jury trial.  The assignment went something like this:

A-hole partner:  SBL, here's a file.  Little 'ole parking lot motor vehicle accident case.  You need to try it.
SBL:  My first jury trial?  Wow!  Thanks for your trust, and willingness to...
AHP interrupts:  You better not screw it up.
SBL:  Of course not.  I'll put it on my very blank calendar, as I've only been practicing law for three months, when is it?
AHP:  eight in the morning.
SBL:  but it's three o'clock
AHP:  Plenty of time.  My first trial, I didn't get the file 'til two hours before voir dire... but I won it, as I am a litigating god...
SBL:  but it's three o'clock, and I've never seen this file before...
AHP:  well, if you don't think you can handle it, then I can always...
SBL:  of course I can handle it.  (winces, and immediately feels the need to run to the loo)
AHP:  here's the file.  don't ask me any questions about it, as I'll make you feel like an idiot for not knowing exactly what to do

NOW, this may seem like extreme hyperbole, but this is, in essence, how the convo went down that fall afternoon.  I really did try the case the next day, remembering the ole' hazing days of the sorority system in college as I trucked through preparations... 

Outcome from trial:  $1.60 over the settlement offer.  AHP's response "Well, you lost it by $1.60; I WON my first trial, you know."  

It, however, WAS a moral victory for SBL, as she could've screwed the pooch much worse.  PLUS, the Plaintiff's attorney felt pretty crappy when he found out he lost a bunch of money by going against a just-outta-the-package attorney who got the file hours before.  

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