Life has a way of reminding you that, even with a monstrous ego, you aren’t that important. This watershed moment, for me, happened about four weeks ago when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It was fun, let me tell you. Adding to this shit sandwich that I was facing on a minute-by-minute basis was a partner hellbent on causing me to lose it.
Which would have resulted in yours truly being featured on Above the Law for going postal. Only it would have been without my nom de plume.
Normally, I can deal with the simple work that a partner can dump on me throughout the day by doing it with a smile on my face (while imagining him being hit by a bus). It’s this simple imaging process that allows me to get through the day to the bottle of scotch I’ve got sitting on my bar.
It’s one baby step after another that allows me to get my sippy cup of 16-year-old Single Malt.
Due to external factors away from the office, I recently couldn’t use my normal coping mechanism. The smile disappeared, and each moment that I had to interact with this senior lawyer was as if I was being stabbed repeatedly. If I didn’t have a mortgage, debt, and expensive things I wanted to buy (let’s be honest, fancy scotch), I would have quit the first time. Or the second time. Or maybe the fifth time that it happened.
The scene always seems to set itself the same way. I am up to my elbows in one of two things: brief writing or substantial settlement negotiations. I don’t want to overstate my importance, but suffice it to say that I am doing actual lawyer work. I’m not facebooking, gchatting, or doing any of the myriad things I could do to waste time at the office. I am being a productive employee who is enjoying the work that I am doing. But that is unimportant to this partner.
He walks in as I am on the phone with opposing counsel engaging in a vigorous settlement negotiation. I’ve got the case file splayed all over my desk and I am not paying attention to the stack of documents that he is holding in his hand. In fact, I’m not paying attention to him (well, I’m not acknowledging him as I already know what is about to happen just by his very presence) and it gets to the point that I actually turn away from him as this negotiation continues to proceed.
You’re missing the actual point here, the simple fact of the matter is that the facts are undisputed. Your client can put all of the lipstick on the pig that she likes, at the end of the day it’s still going to be a pig and a win for me in the courtroom. If you are done with the subterfuge, let’s have an honest disc—
It’s at this midsentence point I get a tap on the shoulder. He is standing over me. I look up and there is nothing I can do to stop him from dropping this gargantuan pile of papers all over my desk.
These are our discovery responses in the Jones case. Please copy them. Right now.
Before I can say ‘hey, what about a clerk’ or ‘hey, what about you?’ or ‘hey, you should engage in anatomically impossible acts of self-copulation!’ the partner has vanished. I am left to return to this phone call completely forgetting where I was in my assault on the other side’s intellectual position. It doesn’t help that my entire file (and now desk) is covered by the useless mess of paper he brought with him. I can only apologize to my opponent for the delay and ask to call him back.
I hang up and start to get this menial task underway when the phone rings again.
After you are done copying, I want you to hand deliver that to the other side…
I hang up again, this time questioning my will to live, and begin to organize the mess he dumped on me. That’s when I make the mistake of reading what he has left. It is the worst work product I’ve ever seen. Since my name is on the case with his, I have to make it right. Two hours later, I get an email from the partner asking if the delivery occurred.
I ignore it. I’m still rewriting everything he gave me.
Besides, it’s not like he is going to check his email again. At least not until he reaches the back nine.