Thursday, April 29, 2010

Returner's Remorse

On Sunday, I bought a truck. Not just any truck. My absolute dream truck. It was sexy. It was monstrous. It was $15,000 of heated leather seats, back-up sensor, auto-climate control, 4 door pulling machine. But most importantly....

It was love at first sight.

Cupid struck me through the heart the second I saw that beautiful, glorious hunk of steel. I couldn't remember wanting anything as badly as I wanted, no- NEEDED, that truck. I can't help it. I'm a truck girl. Call me crazy. Call me a white-collar, redneck. I didn't care that the gas-mileage sucked. I didn't care that I had nothing to tow or haul. I climbed up, sat in those comfy, leather seats and felt like I belonged.

I returned to the car lot with my husband the next day and basically begged him for the dang thing. He didn't want a truck. He explained that I should save up for a bigger downpayment first. He listed all the things our family would have to forgo or put on hold if we bought the truck. He's the practical one. But I won (as I almost always do). We bought it on the spot. I was the happiest person alive.

Then something happened. Guilt gripped my gut. It tore me up inside. My hefty and impractical expenditure loomed over my head and stabbed me with regret. I felt horrible for putting my own desires above the welfare of my family. Two days later, I returned to the lot and backed out of the purchase. It was probably the hardest thing I had to do since I took the bar exam. I sat in my truck one last time. Slowly saying goodbye to the classy console, the soft steering wheel, the heated leather seats and the sleek, shiny short-bed. A part of me died when I walked away that evening. But I also knew this was the smart, albeit, painful decision. Seriously, who returns a $15,000 truck after two days?

I still think about the truck that could have been. I still imagine myself driving it, decked out in my cowgirl boots and blasting Tim McGraw and Billy Currington, my buns a-toasting on that beautiful leather throne. So I assure myself that, someday, a truck like that will be mine. And when that day comes, I'll drive that machine into the ground. I'll love it to death, until it's nothing but a steel shell wrapped around an engine. But until that day comes, I'll have this image burned into my retinas:

And then I bought a new pair of boots. You know, to make the hurt go away faster.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ear Candy!

I have the lamest project at work this week. I'm analyzing over 1,400 pages of attorney time entries from opposing counsel so that we can argue why their fees and costs are excessive an unnecessary. Yay for me.

There is a silver lining to this eyeball burning, headache inducing lameness, however. Today I called co-counsel about a question I had with the time entries. I dialed up his direct number. That's when the sexiest, deepest voice, with a hint of southern drawl, answered the phone. My pants almost melted off right there in my office. The voice that came over the phone was funny and nice and was laced with quirky idioms.

This is what he had to say about opposing counsel: "If dumb was dirt, he'd cover half an acre." and "two sandwiches short of a picnic."

Can you have a crush on a voice? Can you have a crush on someone you've never even seen? About an hour later, I was still thinking about that voice. So I called him back and asked him a question I knew the answer to just so I could hear him again (speak of unnecessary attorney fees)!

How much you want to bet that he's an old man with no teeth and a mullet?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For Love Of Law

I love my job. Lots. Actually, I think it's crazy how much I love my job. I love my job. I love my own office. I love my co-workers. I love my bosses. I love my clients- from all walks of life and ends of the spectrum. I mean, I REALLY love my job. That's not normal right?

I still am amazed at how my quixotic, wandering and spontaneous soul ended up in a professional career with an admirable education and a legitimate job. I remember the tortures and the worries and the hauntings I felt about becoming a lawyer. I thought it wouldn't be for me. I thought I'd never be smart enough to succeed in the legal profession. I thought my chances were slim for landing a job, especially next to my impressive law review peers. And yet, here I am. I have an associate position in a successful (although smaller) law firm with some pretty impressive (ok not like majorly impressive, but impressive to me) clients. I receive praises for my work (most of the time) and the other associates and partners show their appreciation for all the projects I help out with.

I would never have believed in all my law school life that I would end up here. Happy, productive and on the top floor of a downtown Seattle skyrise. I thought I'd eventually graduate lawschool with misgivings. I swore I would end up lost among the legal profession, unsure of where I really belonged. I thought law school would lead me down a non-legal career path into governance or social administration. I wasn't logical or practical enough for a stuffy, paper-pushing office job. And yet. Here I am, soaking it up and loving it.

And now it all makes sense. Litigation is the perfect career path for me. I am super nerdy. I love to research. I love to learn things and be intellectual. I love to write papers. BUT I also like to be productive and see end results. Every time I get to write a motion, I satisy both of those parts of me. I get to write an argument for why something should happen and then I get to see that argument actually result in a Judge's Order and report back the end resuls to the client. It's PERFECT.

Also, litigation is awesome because, no matter how many years you practice law, you will ALWAYS come across a new issue that you've never seen before. Of course at this early stage in my career, everything is new. But it's refreshing to see that the experienced associates and partners don't know all the answers and it's kind of cool when they rely on your research and recommendations. Yesterday an associate asked me to write an opposition for a motion for expert deposition fees. Apparently, under discovery rules, if you request to take the deposition of opposing counsel's expert witness, you have to pay them for the time they spend "responding to discovery." But it's unclear whether this includes time they spend preparing for the deposition. At first, I thought this issue would be really boring- ew, fees and costs. YUK. But, it ended up being like a caselaw scavenger hunt to track down helpful cases from other jurisdictions and apply them to my case. Then applying that knowledge to a written final product that a JUDGE will read- it can't get any better for my nerdy self.

While I do love my job, it's not all 100% skittles and butterflies. I do find that my love for my job starts to dwindle by the time 5pm rolls around. And the nights that I am up until 1:30am finishing a "last minute, high priority" motion, I often rethink my career choice. But then I always wake up refreshed (or with a sleep deprivation hang-over, completely jacked up on caffeine) with a renewed sense of love.

And then there are paydays. Totally. Worth. Every. Late. Night.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strippers And Sanctions

After work yesterday I went to a construction professionals meet and greet. There were mostly other construction defect lawyers in attendance. Laywers on both sides of the plaintiff/defendant fence and they all seemed to know each other. I spent a lot of time listening to other people talk about themselves. It was pretty lame. At events like this, I usually end up thinking that most attorneys are (1) old, (2) sleezy and (3) male. Maybe all the hot young professionals have better things to do on a Friday night.

Halfway through the evening another attorney joined the forray. He was loud and, quite clearly, drunk off his ass. He started talking about limos, strippers and cocaine. Nice. At this point in the evening I was the only woman in the room. Good thing I don't take offense easily, when you work in the legal profession, I don't think you really can. Also good thing I'm used to being "one of the guys."

During the discussion about stripper and cocaine, one of the other attorneys looks at me and says, "Sorry. This conversation is getting out of hand. Isn't it?"

I just looked at him and smiled, "It's ok. It takes a lot to offend me."

Then an attorney from my firm joins and says, "Yeah, take her out to lunch sometime and SHE'LL be the one offending YOU!" I think I turned bright red on the spot. But then I remembered the time I went to lunch with a group of attorneys from my firm. After one beer I was telling them all about the crush I have on my father-in-law and all the reasons why I could never be a stripper. Yeah, good times......

Anyway, the attorney that had just walked in starts introducing himself to someone next to me. His name sounds REALLY familiar. But I can't place it. Then the attorney from my firm says, "Cee, you have to meet this guy." He grabs my hand and takes me over to him and says, "Joe Bob, this is Cee. Cee this is Joe Bob. He's the guy that you got sanctioned."

Oh crap. THAT'S why his name sounds familiar! Remember that Motion to Dismiss that I wrote. The one where I claimed in my reply that they never responded timely when they actually DID? Well, it turns out the Judge granted our motion anyway and decided to sanction the other side a couple thousand dollars. And this was the guy from the other side.

Anyway so the guy at my firm introduces us and then "Joe Bob" just shrugs it off like it's no big deal. He's like, "I'm so filthy rich, I don't care. Maybe I deserved it." Then he continues right on talking about strippers and cocaine.

Gee, lawyers are such decent people.

Then I was bored out of my mind and ate about 53 chocolate covered strawberries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Potty Love

It took a while.
At first he was deathly afraid of it.

The volume of his screams could be measured by his proximity to the dang thing.

But then Daddy showed him there's nothing to be afraid of.
And hesitation quickly melted into confidence.

Now he always wants to sit on the seat that's just for him.

You may even catch him flashing a big boy grin while he's sitting on his big boy potty.

Now if he would just USE it.

The Daily Grind Is Not So Daily

Yesterday I put in my first 13+ hour day at the office. Yes, at the office. I didn't even just leave at the normal time and take my work home like I usually do. By the time 10:00pm rolled around and I started packing up, I was the last associate standing. I even met the nightly janitor. But I did turn red when he emptied my daily trash and only three hershey bar wrappers fell out. Oh and I discoverd to how to turn the lights back on after they automatically shut off. Adventures all around.

I wasn't 100% pleased when I caught my 10:30pm ferry. But you know what, that's ok considering how I felt in the morning.

Yesterday morning I arrived at work with a new case sitting on my desk, an responsive motion to draft, a few fires to put out and a partner asking me to research an interesting area of law. Last Friday I spent the majority of the day at a construction site warehouse sorting through dust boxes of documents. The day before that I made severall calls to a client in New Zealand and one in Canada. The day before that I was dealing an unexpected last minute surreply and with my MONSTROUS DISASTER (the topic of my previous post). Today I will probabaly be trying to figure out how to take the depositions of two people in California who are not parties to the action and do so on a shoe string budget.

Every day is different and I almost never can guarantee what the day will hold for me. This is why I not only NOT DREAD coming to work each day, but I actually LOOK FORWARD to it. My job is exciting and it changes all the time. In litigation, you never know what tactic the other side with throw at you, you have to dodge or extend discovery deadlines, and learn to navigate the court rules. You have to think through the issues and the facts to develop a case theory and plot out a plan of action.

Right now I am just so thrilled that I chose to pursue this messy and crazy world of law. I kind of just fell into my career in litigation but I'm pretty sure there is no other career I'd rather have.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Always Read The Court Rules. And Check The Partner's Math.

I effed up.



Well, I guess it could have been much worse. But my blunder is still very, very embarassing.

I recently drafted a motion to dismiss for one of our cases. The plaintiff's opposition was due last Friday. Our reply was due Monday. Plaintiff never opposed our motion, so my reply said something like this: "Neener neener neener. You suck at life. You didn't oppose our motion. We're gonna kick your butt at hearing!"

The day after our reply was filed we received plaintiff's opposition. I was caught off guard. They didn't even acknowledge that their response was late. I thought they were being sleezy considering they've been that way since the day litigation started. So we filed a surreply. Surreplies are not technically mentioned in the court rules but our firm uses them occassionally when a situation warrants a last chance kick to opponent's groin. My surreply said something like this: "You lazy bastards. You can't even follow court rules. You still suck at life. You should be sanctioned you little pricks." (Ok, fine. I'll admit, I was actually very professional- but please play along with my creative license.)

The next day we receive plaintiff's surreply. Oh my god. They claimed they were NOT untimely. They claimed we were using tricks to win our motion. They called us everything under the sun. Hmm. Well, who was right? I checked the calendaring schedule for the motion. Yep, it said right there, opposition due Friday and the hearing is Thursday. Hey, wait a minute. That doesn't sound right! A response is usually due TWO days before a hearing not almost a week before a hearing.



This is where my universe collapsed in on me and I wanted to scrawl the word "Loser" in bloody letters across my forehead with the end of a paperclip. I had just got owned. So I went back and read the court rule and it turns out they were completely right and their motion was not late. But my reply and surreply were basically pages and pages of written verbal vomit on how much they suck at law and how they can't read court rules. Oh boy, it was time to eat my words. But first I had to call the partner on the case and explain the situation to him (in all honestly, he went over the case schedule with me but I still should have double checked his math because he was super busy that day).

I called up the partner, explained everything and I apologized profusely. Thank goodness he was in the middle of handling a trial which was going very well for him and that he was in a good mood. I took the blame and then got up and started swinging again.

I had to write an amended reply on the day of the hearing and rush it quickly to the judge- yay for e-filing. My reply was someting like this: "Please disregard our prior reply. We were hit by the dumb truck and suffered a temporary lapse in ability to follow court rules. But we should still win our motion because opposing counsel is still three times the failure we are. And he's a sleeze-bag. Love, Us. P.s.: That robe makes your butt look super hot."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Please, Step Into My Home Office

This weekend was full of fun and work. On Sunday, I convinced my husband that we should take Jacob into Seattle for the day so that I could pop into the office to pick up some deposition transcripts I was supposed to summarize (and then lost under a stack of obscure case law, discovery requests and old status reports).

Mark this day on your calendar peeps. This is the day Cee came into the office on a weekend! Because of my love-hate relationship with the ferry, I try really hard never to come in on the weekend. Instead, I bring my work home. Unless, of course, it has been eaten by the monstrous stacks of tree guts (paper- duh) on my desk.

I was also supposed to draft a reply to plaintiff's opposition to the motion to dismiss we filed in one of our cases. Except, I couldn't find Plaintiff's opposition. Problem? Yes. I checked my inbox, I checked the other associate's inbox (but his office looked like a file cabinet exploded in there so no luck). I checked the partner's inbox for the opposition as well. Then I scammed another associate into teaching me how to look at the court's docket online. Still no luck. I emailed the partner on the case. He informed me that to his knowledge, plaintiff did not file an opposition.

Seriously? That's like saying to the court "please dismiss my case, oh yeah, and sanction me while you're at it!" This hearing is without oral argument so their opposition was their only opportunity to respond. Well, at least if they didn't oppose, I didn't have to draft a reply right?


Partner: "We'll want to draft a reply anyway. Please have a draft to me by 10am tomorrow since it must be filed by noon."

Great. Lovely. Perfect. Happy weekend to me.

But at least we had a little fun at Pike Place Market on the way home.

Until "we" passed out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Office Pranks

On April fools day one of my coworkers got me pretty good. He stayed late one day after work printing out photos of himself from back in the day when he was sporting a 70s porn mustache. He snuck into my office and taped his face over all seven of the framed photos of my son's face that I keep on my bookshelf and window sill. Photoshop could not have done a better job.

When I walked into my office on April 1st, I almost died from shock to find his mustached face plastered all over my photos. Then I almost died from laughter. Word quickly spread and all day long my coworkers were popping into my office to see the prank for themselves.

I have to admit, it was pretty good.

From that day on, I began to plot my revenge.

Then one day he didn't come into work. Turns out he was working from home. I enlisted the help of a legal secretary and we drafted a fake Complaint: Jesus H. Christ v. Coworker. Jesus was suing Coworker for violating each one of the Ten Commandments. I drafted this Complaint with great care. Alleging that Coworker took the Lord's name in vain 216 times a day, that he Facebooked on the Sabbath, that he didn't call his parents often enough, that he stole candy from babies, that he never came to church, that he coveted his neighbor's donkey and that he was customer of the month at the local strip club. I even got the legal secretary to make up a fake process server slip and then we hand delivered it to his apartment manager who later called him down to retrieve his "package."

It was really brilliant if I do say so myself. Jesus was even claiming damages such as "death on the cross for Defendant's sins" and "mental and spiritual anguish." Coworker received this Complaint and though he wasn't fooled even for a second, he admitted my payback was pretty good.

A copy of this complaint has been circulating around the office and I won many praises for my handiwork. I may not be known yet for stellar legal skills but I am now known for my crafty pranks. That's something right?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Metaphor That Dies Halfway Through A Blog Post

What I love about litigation is that my cases are never laid back and easy going. Somehow, I attract high maintenance cases with a lot of baggage. They are just never satisfied.

One day the defendant is living in Canada, the next day he is actually living in Jamaica. One day the Hague Service Convention applies, the next day a state statute applies. One day the plaintiff claims his injuries prevent him from working, the next day we catch him on the driving range! Then there are butt loads of motions, replies to motions, and other pleadings just waiting to be filed. Oh and in the meantime, I'm responding to interrogatory requests and writing status reports to our insurance company clients.

These cases make me want to pull my hair out but they also make me fall deeply and madly in love with my legal career every day. They are the reason I am crosseyed and my brain shuts down at 4:15pm. They are the reason I drink 2 cups of coffee and one Diet Dr. Pepper each day. They are the reason the bags under my eyes are growing bags under them. They are the reason I am incapable of having a logical thought or speaking coherently past 5:00pm. But they are MY CASES. I knew them when they were just teeny tiny Complaints. I know them like the back of my hand (I was going to say "eyelids" but I've forgotten what the back of my eyelids look like).

These cases cause me to jump out of bed in the middle of the night with new ideas and thoughts. They puzzle me, confuse me and try to beat me into the ground. But I love the challenge. I love the strategy. I love the process. I love the Court Rules and using them to favor our client. Litigation is like a big game of chess, with way more rules and so many game pieces that I haven't even discovered them all yet.

I may manage these cases from start to finish. I may direct their path to an extent and guide them to resolution, but these cases are teaching me. They are teaching me how to be a lawyer. They are teaching me how to be a litigator. I love every step along the way.

Now if only I passed the bar exam.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Our Day, Illustrated

Why does it seem like each holiday comes and goes so much more quickly than the last? There is barely enough time for the anticipation to build and then the day is over and all I'm left with are those moments of the day captured through a lens.

Our days are just so busy. I wish I had more time to soak it all in.

But then again, those moments that ARE captured through a lens are pretty darn terrific.

The fleeting nature of our lives makes me want to snap shots of everything. Even the seemingly mundane shots turn into a fingerprint of an emotion or a fossil of adventures past.

No matter how busy our days are, they are always brimming with love.

These guys are my life. I feel like I'm in the middle of a really great story, and I just don't want it to end.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Easter: Let The Torment Begin!

Waiting in line for Easter Bunny photos was very disturbing this year. This yearly ritual is 110% for the benefit of the parents. I watched as child after child was ushered toward a full grown man in a full blown rabbit costume complete with oversized feet and granny-like spectacles. Each child's happiness could be measured by his or her proximity to the Easter bunny. The closer each child got, the louder the screams and the wilder the flailing of arms became.

It became very apparent to me. Children HATE the Easter Bunny. Yet, despite this fact, parent after parent pushed, prodded and pleaded, as if sending cattle to the slaughter. I heard some parents bribe their children with candy (one parent literally snatched a sucker out of her child's hand when she refused to sit with the Easter Bunny!). I heard other parents beg their children to do it "for grandma" and plead with them to "show your teeth!" When the children screamed and threw tantrums, the parents would spend 10 minutes playing games with their child- they were desperate, they'd have done anything for one smiling picture perfect moment captured on kodak paper.

This scenario played out with every single family waiting in line with a child over 5 months old. Yet, even after witnessing the torment play out with everyone that came befor them, the parents continued to wait in the ridiculously long line, assuring themselves that their child would be different. It was really REALLY disturbing. And yet, we did the same thing. The things parents do to their children all in the name of tradition, sheesh!

And our child wasn't different. But we didn't care. We like our picture just the way it is. (And there was no way we were going to let Jacob have all the fun).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Welcome to Wild (North) West Litigator

Yes, you've clicked on the right link. Starting to Melt has become Wild (North) West Litigator!

I picked the cowgirl theme for three reasons, (1) Cowgirls are awesome, (2) raised in a very rural town by super conservative, country-music loving parents, I feel like I'm a county girl trapped in a city girl's body, and (3) in the world of litigation, the (north) west is definately still "wild." And if those aren't enough reasons, how about the simple fact that everyone needs a little more cowgirl in their lives?

Don't you just LOVE the new design? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! Much thanks to Leelou . She did a fantastic job. Now let the adventure continue!