An old colleague I worked with last year has branched off and started his own personal injury firm. He randomly called me last week and asked if I would take on a legal research project for him regarding one of his cases. I was so thrilled that he not only thought of me but thought of me as a savvy, smart legal researcher! It definately pays to make a good impression on people you work with- and it is true that a lot of opportunities come about because of who you know.
I met with him in his office (he let me bring Jacob!) and reviewed the case with me. This case is a tough one. I'm usually pretty good about not becoming too emotionally involved in the cases I work on. That's mostly because as an intern/clerk, I rarely actually meet the clients. They all are just names on paper to me. While I wanted to be a lawyer to not just impact people's lives but to do so in a tangile, noticeably way, sometimes I like that I don't have to get too involved as a law clerk.
This case I am working on is the toughest case ever. It involves the worst thing I could ever imagine: the death of a child. It gets worse, the death was accidental but just horrifying. And the father, whom we represent, not only witnessed the death but probably feels very guilty for setting it up to happen- even if it's not his faut. I've been putting the case off, but today I finally opened my copy of the case file. I read the police reports, the witness statements and the autopsy report. I saw imagines of the equipment that caused the death. I almost broke down more than once. I can't stop feeling sick to my stomach.
I can't imagine the pain and the guilt the father is going through right now. There cannot be anything worse in the entire world than losing a child. I don't think I could be strong enough to handle something like that. I really don't.
I keep thinking about the role of the civil suit in this situation. I fluctuate between two extremes. 1) Just drop it and try to find healing. A child is gone. No amount of litigation can bring him back and no amount of money will make you whole. 2) Go after the negligent party without mercy. They must pay.
But at the end of the day, this horrible thing cannot be undone. Even the law has its limits.