May 2006


The sublet disaster continues. She still has my $850, and she told me she’d have the dates nailed down “by the end of the week” three weeks ago. Now I’ve sent her another email asking about dates and she hasn’t replied. For three days.

Suggestions? (Unless, that is, your suggestion is that I kiss my $850 goodbye, because that might make me very very sad.)

…sweat through your blouse in 15 minutes because it is 91 freaking degrees outside
…train with an 18-year-old Harvard freshman who somehow manages to be more put together looking than you are.
…embarass yourself trying to use the unnecessarily complicated “coffee system.
…walk into your newly-issued office and discover that it is stocked chock full of office supplies, including a glue stick, an “envelope moistening wand”, white out (now available in legal pad yellow! who knew!), and brand-new, still in their packaging tape dispenser, stapler, and scissors. (The teacher in me nearly swooned.)
… go to a two-hour, three-course lunch, at the end of which the associate you ate with will say, with genuine pleased surprise, “hey! only $60 for lunch! not bad!”
…spend two solid hours being trained on the use of Outlook. (Who knew email was so complicated?)
…watch a video on sexual harassment, produced by the firm’s labor and employment attorneys, that makes you seriously reconsider your earlier request that you be given labor and employment work during the summer.
…learn that all summer associates are going to be attending next week’s Madonna concert in a luxury box, courtesy of the firm. Which is almost enough to make me reconsider working at a firm after graduation. Almost.

Start job at Law Firm tomorrow. I’ve been reading archives of Anonymous Lawyer to prep, which is fully terrifying.

Stories of two hour lunches, drunken happy hours, and screaming partners to follow.

Not much happening on the law/interesting developments fronts. Finished finals Wednesday, start work Tuesday, have been sleeping and running around outside a lot on my 5 days of summer vacation.

One funny tidbit, though. My Brother In Law, David, who is going to be a senior in college next year, is staying with us for the summer while he does an internship at a local social services agency. He works with kids, mostly recent African immigrants, teaching music. It’s a cool job.

But the coolest part has to be his two supervisors. Their names? Thalma and Luis.

I swear to god, you can’t make this shit up. I realized David really is much younger than I am when I cracked up when he told me their names and he didn’t get the reference.

Trying to shop for appropriate business casual clothing today, I was met again and again with that most horrific of clothing forms: the formal short.

Why? Why, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Benetton, New York & Company, and Ann Taylor Loft? Why have you decided to eschew the skirt, long acknolwedged to be a classic, in favor of something that makes everyone look stumpy and is not actually work appropriate anywhere? I expect this from Forever 21, or H&M, but when I can’t find a single basic black skirt, this formal short problem has gotten out of control.

So I am not built for take-home exams. Here, “take-home” means “go lock yourself in the library and turn this in in eight hours.” Sweet. I have an attention span that is approximately one hour long. I can stretch it to three hours during a time-pressured in-class exam, but an eight-hour take home? Not so much. I finished typing in four hours, seriously considered sending it in without proofreading it, thought better of it, went downstairs and shot the shit for an hour, listened to the Joe Purdy music I have on my computer twice, made a shopping list, read some blogs, and am now trying again to edit the damn thing but am blogging instead. I’d tell you about the actual exam, but that would be a problem because some people still have yet to take it and who KNOWS who’s reading this shit.

3 hours to go. Definitely going to turn it in in about 25 minutes. Can’t take this.

It is so not a coincidence that the FBI thinks they’ve finally found Jimmy Hoffa on the day when I am cramming my head full of labor law in preparation for Monday’s Labor and Employment exam.

So, I may or may not be addicted to a blog called Vegan Lunch Box, run by a wonderful stay at home mom who makes her super adorable kid a homemade vegan lunch every day to take to school and then takes a picture of it to share with the internets. This woman manages to do things with beans, soy, and textured vegetable protein that we mere vegetarians can only dream about. (I am not hard core enough to be vegan. I could never live without cheese. Or butter. Or ice cream. Also, did I mention cheese? I’m not even that good a vegetarian. I recently ate a duck taco. I’m starting to ramble now.)

Ahem. Sorry. Right! I had a point! And that point is: Vegan Entree Loaf. Seriously, I could try to explain it, but it’s best you just see it for yourself. So many choices! So many odd ingredients! And a worksheet! Which is your favorite combination?

In my pretrial class today we questioned mock adverse witnesses. Adverse witnesses are esentially people who don’t like your or your client (or who are not “on your side,”) but whose testimony you think will support your case- kind of like cross examination, except you chose to have these people take the stand.

It was a valuable class. I learned, for example, that if I can at all avoid it, I will NEVER CALL AND ADVERSE WITNESS. EVER.

Our helpful “pretrial” textbook has examples of sample “adverse witness questioning” that look something like this:

Attorney: You are a police officer.
Adverse Witness: Yes
Att: You have been trained in the proper use of a firearm.
AW: Yes
Att: The police department conducts retrainings on proper use of a firearm twice a year, is that correct?
AW: Yes
Att: So you were retrained in the proper use of a firearm no more than six months before the incident, is that correct?
AW: Yes.
Att: So, when you said in your April 18 deposition that you had not been trained in the proper use of a firearm for “at least a couple of years,” you were lying?
AW: Yes

Then the gallery spontaneously breaks into applause, the judge decides that the case is over now thanks to the devastating testimony obtained by the amazingly skilled questioning, and Perry Mason stands up and takes a bow.

Or not. Questioning for me went something like this:

Pseudostoops: You were driving home when the incident occured, correct?
Adverse witness: What do you mean “driving home?” I was in my car, but I wasn’t, like, fixated on getting home as quicky as possible or anything. And there wasn’t any incident.
PS: Okay….. You were driving immediately before you sustained the injury you allege in your complaint.
AW: Complaint? I just know that I got shot! Your client shot me! You bet I got complaints!
PS: Well, okay, but when you first encountered my client, you were driving in a car, correct?
AW: I was just driving home, minding my own business, when your client starts driving like a freaking psycho, swerving, and swearing at me, and calling me a dirty Polack, and then he kicks me in the groin and shoots me for no reason and I didn’t hear him say police or nothing and now I can’t work and my seven children and me are living out on the street.
PS: A simple “yes or no,” will suffice here, sir.
Opposing counsel: Objection! Counsel is badgering the witness!
Judge: Sustained.

Right! Lesson learned! Friendly witnesses only from here on out!

From the “maybe this should have been obvious but it still surprised the hell out of me” files:

After missing Clienette at jail two weeks ago , then missing her again at court last Monday, I went to jail again on Friday. Supervising attorney was there (hurrah!) and we headed to Clienette’s unit so we could get in to see her.

“Attorney visit for Clienette McClient,” said supervising attorney to the guard on the unit.

The guard consulted the huge prisoner list (which is printed on old-school double-wide dot-matrix paper and which is, no joke, 2 inches thick, and reprinted every single day- because who needs trees?!) and said “oh, Clienette isn’t here. She’s across the way at the hospital.”

Hospital? Our client is in the hospital?

“What’s she in for?” asked supervising attorney.

“Dunno, you’ll have to ask them,” said guard.

So we went across the way to the prison hospital, where we tried once more to meet with Clienette. She refused to see us. Apparently she’s there because her medicines aren’t working, or the dosage got messed up, or something has shifted in the dark recesses of her very very screwed-up brain, and she was put in the hospital because she had become too “agitated.” No fever, no injury, just put there so they could put an iv in her and fill her with some drugs to calm her down. She’d been there for 3 days on this iv-drug-calming-down plan. Must have been really agitated.

I guess I should not be surprised that we had no idea this was going on. We’re not her legal guardians. But it was sheer coincidence that we went to visit her only 4 days after seeing her in court. Often, it would be a couple of weeks between visits, and we might never have known that she had been put in the hospital to be pumped full of sedatives. I don’t know who I expected to call us, exactly- but it truly never occured to me that we could have a client experience a major medical episode in jail and never hear anything about it. Especially when our defense of Clienette hinges largely on her serious mental illness, these episodes are good things to know about.

Even though we didn’t get to see Clienette, the visit was not without value- I did get to see my partner law student sent back to his car after a search of him at the entrance to the jail revealed that he had a handcuff key attached to his key ring. Watching him, red-faced, trying to explain to supervising attorney that he just happens to have a pair of handcuffs for “personal use” and that he had forgotten he had the key with him made the whole trip worthwhile.

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