Monday, February 25, 2008

A couple of crotch stories.

 I often go to  depositions in some random part of my southern state.  These depositions often consist of me asking  your typical Penny Painful-neck about a car accident she had with my client, Billy Bob.  

One time I was in some random town, and the Plaintiff's attorney insisted on sitting in 'his' chair.  This chair had armrests, and he needed armrests 'cause he had a "hurtin' back."  The deposition was in the afternoon, and Plaintiff Pat had been (allegedly) playing with his kids all morning.  Pat shows up in Patagonia jacket, and matching shorts.   (I'm wearing the requisite black suit with pearls and a pink button-down.)  Part-way through the deposition, Pat throws his leg over the armrests... and he BOUNCES his leg as I ask questions.  I don't know if he was wanting me to check out his junk or what... but I certainly never acknowledged that his leg was flailing over the armrest like a dying fish.  His client, who was sitting next to him, never knew it -- as he threw his leg over the armrest AWAY from her.  

Another random town, and another Plaintiff Pat -- I was last-minute reviewing documents in the waiting room of a rather nice office.  Wearing a skirt.  Deep in thought.  I suddenly felt something cold and wet in my crotchal area.  I jumped about four feet high to find a large german shepherd in front of me.  The dog had just been roaming around the office, and decided to greet me in the crotch.  

I'm just now figuring out that these nether-region situations aren't within the norm.  I haven't been practicing long.  Apparently I get treated differently than your average middle-aged attorney with hair growing out his ears.  Of course, I think the dog would've sniffed-out about anyone.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Asbestos Depos - the billable promised land

We've still got asbestos litigation going on down here in the south.  And it's BIG money, let me tell ya.  There are weeks on end of asbestos depositions.  These depositions are in small random towns, and require corporate attorneys representing all of corporate America to attend.  The experience of these depos are the same for the biggest of big-whig attorneys, and the smallest of minions like myself.  Undoubtedly, there is some important litigation that goes on in these matters, but, my place in said litigation goes something like this:
6am: leave house to drive three hours to arrive at Tinytown.  Tinytown is 250 miles away, and I get paid $.50 per mile, as well as my hourly rate, to drive there.  Mileage is my friend.
9am: arrive in Tinytown, and prep for deposition of Joe Bob by setting up my laptop, and stealing the two-week-old Newsweek out of the lobby of the hotel where the depos are taking place
9:30:  commence deposition.  
9:45:  pay 20% attention to the deposition as I finger through Newsweek, but remembering to keep my ear sharpened for the mention of ABC Corporation's name.  
10:25:  Drudge report says that blue is a bad color for Hillary.  I've already billed 4.5 hours today.  I think Hill looks fine in blue.
11:30:  Joe Bob mentioned ABC Corporation while I was trying to watch an episode of the Office on mute.  Get angry with Joe Bob to have the audacity to mention ABC Corp. while I'm trying to watch NBC's finest comedy.  Make a note of Joe Bob's reference on my "page of notes" on my computer... thank heavens I could find said notes underneath all the other open windows.   
12:45:  "the question" comes up.  Everyone looks around to feel each other out.  "The question" is the same question that enters these depositions every time... shall we break for lunch or push through the deposition?  This is a much larger question than one could imagine -- it's not just 'to eat or not to eat'.  If we DON'T eat, then the depo will indefinitely be finished faster, saving all our clients money.  If we DO eat, then we get to bill considerably more, as all people will have a full happy stomach for the afternoon, and will feel free to ask as many questions as they want without the fear of cannibalism of fellow attorneys.  'The question' has a huge impact on the economy.  If lunch is had, then the client pays for it... so everyone feels free to eat and tip as they please.  18+ attorneys in Tinytown Cracker Barrel is enough high rolling to give that Cracker Barrel's owner's child a good Christmas.  Also, we'll probably bill an addition 3.0 hours on average additional on the day, thanks to the lunch.  Assuming that each attorney bills $250, then that's $750 per person, times 18 attorneys.  That comes out to over $13k getting pumped out of corporate America... all because of 'the question'.  When 'the question' comes up, everyone looks around clueless, saying "I really don't care, what do you think" -- but really, deep down inside, everyone wants to take a lunch for the above-referenced reasons.   'The question' inevitably is answered by the most senior attorney in the room... all other attorneys know who that person is.  It changes every day.  He or she (who are we kidding... it's always a 'he') gets to make the call.  
1-2p:  lunch at Cracker Barrel.  I hope Sue Barrel enjoys her new Christmas hula hoop.
2p:  We are now at the 4th of 17 attorneys to ask question (the plaintiff's attorney doesn't need to ask his own client questions).  I'm sitting at about the 15th space.  (I sit at the end of the semi-circle on purpose... most of the good questions have already been asked by then, so all I have to do is follow up.)
3:16:   My turn.  Look up from soduku, and open notes: "Joe Bob, have you ever heard of ABC Corp?"  Yeah.  "What is ABC Corp?"  I don't know, just heard of it, 'cause my cousin worked there.  "What is your cousin's name?"  Jizzy.  "What is his full name?"  I don't know we just call him Jizzy.  "You don't know your cousin's full name?"  No.  "Do you know ABC Corp in any other way other than its relationship with Jizzy?"  No.  "No more questions, I pass the witness."  I drove three hours, and sat here all day, and ate at Cracker Barrel, all so I could ask those six questions.
3:18p:  Continue sitting in deposition, but this time not even giving the 20% effort I did at 9:45.
4:00p:  Deposition concluded.  Run to the loo before the drive home, wondering what's going to be on NPR, and if my cell phone reception will be decent in the drive through nowheresville.
7:00p:  Arrive at home.  I just billed the laziest and easiest 13 hours known to man.   Thank you, corporate America, and God bless asbestos litigation.