Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mondays and the Pennsylvania Polka

If you're a practicing lawyer, you probably experienced your share of  déjà vu days that reminded you of the film Ground Hog Day.  In honor of Ground Hog Day, we present the following recent post of a day in the life of a Disgruntled Lawyer.

Dear Diary:
3:30 AM    Wake up startled to the sounds of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck"- the song I chose as the default ringtone for the firm's new brilliant idea - a 24 hour 7 day a week Emergency Access Line.  Find anxious client on other end.  Guy works the late shift and was calling to check on the status of his divorce. Just came in on Friday but "really wants" to divorce his wife.  I explain that the courts are not open at 3:30 AM let alone on the weekends and that we would file his case as soon as his wife was served.  I also remind him that the firm's much ballyhooed emergency line is for emergencies only. I drift back asleep hoping to continue beautiful dream where I am a bright eyed college grad who is abducted by aliens on the way to taking the LSAT exam.

8:30 AM   Groggily awaken to the terrifying realization that I have overslept and  have to be in court within half an hour.  In my haste mistake shaving cream for the new pump action tooth gel my wife purchased. Realize that despite having the word "cream" in the description, shaving cream tastes horrible.

9:40 AM  Arrive at criminal court house to find no available parking and no client.  Find metered parking only to discover the change left in the car's "ashtray" has been replaced with potpurri.  I run into the courthouse hoping to catch the state's attorney before the judge comes out.  I manage to get past a gauntlet of bail bondsmen who are handing out cards like menu fliers on a New York City street.  As I finally enter the courthouse, I am faced with the choice of  two lines for the metal detector.  I decide to pick the one with the Tin Man and begrudgingly learn he has filled his pockets with every manner of spare change, tacks, jacks, paper clips, and every key he has ever owned since 1975.  After several beep filled passes through the detector, the marshal asks the man if he is wearing a belt buckle.  "Oh yeah." The guy removes a huge metal buckle emblazoned with the Budwieser logo. He tries going through again.  Beep-Beep.  "Sir do you have steel toe boots on?   The gentleman meticulously unlaces his boots at a snail's pace. I soon follow and make my way to the court room in search of the state's attorney.

9:55 AM  I soon learn that a public defender has beaten me to the prosecutor with a pile of approximately 300 cases to discuss. I glance down at my one sad file.  (Editors note: I don't know how these PD's do it.  They truly deserve alot of credit). As I get closer to the State's Attorney I hear the familiar three knocks on the door to the court room.  "All Rise.  Court is in session." 

10:30 AM  Court opens. The rights of the accused are given to the peanut gallery in English, Spanish, Polish and in sign language. The attorney sitting next to me makes himself overly comfortable.  Like an old lady at Sunday mass, he refuses to "scoot" over to give me room to sit.  He also decides to casually rest his arm on the backrest of the bench.  His arm is outstretched behind me.  If I lean back, he will have his arm around me.  It must be my cologne. I scan the courtroom vainly looking for my client.  Still no sign of him. 

10:40 AM  The State's Attorney calls my case.  "May I pass your honor.  I am awaiting my client's arrival".   Sit back down with Mr. Romance who still refuses to scoot over. We set a date to start shopping for china patterns and curtains.

11:59 AM  Client arrives in courthouse as judge announces lunch recess. 
It's All Greek to Me
1:05  PM  Case called.  I am informed that the court ordered a Polish interpreter for my Ukranian client. I am told by a staff member that it is basically the same thing.  Yes, except it is an entirely different language.  As if ordering a German interpreter would be sufficient for an English speaking person because they both know what the word Strudel means.  Continued for new court date.  As we walk out, the client informs me that he does not have payment because he wanted to take advantage of the Black Friday deals on the new Sony Playstation.  Promises to get me "next time"  I dash out of courthouse to leave for an afternoon divorce pretrial at 2 in a court house 30 minutes away.  Find a ticket on my car. 

1:30 PM  Stuck in traffic.  As I think about my court experience, I start thinking about the day I passed over a corporate law job in New York to take a job in a small Connecticut firm.  Thoughts wander to law school version of myself and dreams of arguing before the Supreme Court.  Pass under an overpass with a large lawyer ad with what appears to be an attorney next to a logo similar to Superman's.  Next to me is a city bus with a picture of a woman driving while putting on makeup.  The ad for a personal injury firm has a tag line about how her driving can cause you serious injuries.  Something along the lines of she drives you die. 

2:00 PM  Arrive for pretrial with judge for a particularly contentious divorce.  Parties have prepared a list  of everything they own per judge's instructions.  Judge tells them to flip a coin and start dividing things.  My client wins the toss up.  "I want the doll collection" he says with a smirk.  "OK then I want the hunting gear" the wife counters.  They continue to divide their crap in a similar fashion.  Husband choses wife's vanity makeup furniture over a 52 inch flat screen tv out of spite. Wife goes home with deer antlers and a chainsaw.Come to the conclusion that I will never divorce my wife.

3:00 PM  Leave court for late afternoon closing.  Client calls my cell phone en route to inform me that she wants to back out of her purchase because a fortune teller told her she felt a bad vibe about the property.  I informed her that the bad viibe was probably her losing her $20,000 deposit.  She agrees to go forward with the transaction.  I fight the urge to pull into a bar and go on a bender that would make Ernest Hemingway proud.  Thankfully closing goes off without a hitch. Leave closing for my own office.

4:15 PM  Arrive at our office parking lot to find a prospective client sitting in his car. He had arrived two hours earlier without an appointment and was convinced my secretary was lying when she said I was in court.  Gentleman walks with me to the office door as he discusses his case "worth millions". He wants to sue the Governor of the State because the stop light near his house stays red far too long and somehow it led to him being late for work and losing his job.  I inform him our office does not accept such matters.  He informs me that it is illegal for me to discriminate and I am bound by the US Consitution to take the case.  Although he has no money, he will split the "winnings" with me 50/50. I thanked him and picked up the pace.  I refer him to a colleague that I needed to settle a score with.  I smile to myself. 

4:30 PM  Spent 15minutes with crazy man in parking lot. With the wind chill factor, it seemed like hours. I enter the office to find warmth and a hodge podge of messages and problems.  While I was out, the office servers were down with no internet service.  Calls were made to the Internet provider who could not solve the problem over the phone.  A technician was sent out.  The technician pressed the "on" button on the power strip attached to our network server. Looking forward to receiving bill. 

5:00 PM  Prepare will of elderly client.  Gentleman insists that his younger brother serve as administrator of the estate.  Client is 97. Younger brother is 95.

6:00 PM  Grab a bite to eat and excitedly scan the paper for the story the local city paper did on our firm.  Find article with title "Kielbasa and Que Pasa" referring to our firm's offering of Polish and Spanish language services.   Tying our law firm to meat products is not exactly the image I wanted to convey.   Nice compliment to my quote in the Connecticut Law Tribune where I stated "Jackass Law Students often become jackass lawyers and my quote in the ABA Journal where I referred to some clients as "a few pages short of a legal brief." Decide I talk too much.  My internet search takes me to the blog site for a  local personal injury firm.  I realize their blog posts are simply cut and past copies of recent news stories about serious auto accidents in the state including ones resulting in death.  Each post ends with an invitation to contact the firm if you have recently been injured in an auto accident. My guess is that the family or injured party does a search  looking for news items on the accident and then finds links to the personal injury firm's website.  Crafty buggers. I roll my eyes.  Day is not a total loss.  Find that ABA Journal selected my blog among the Top 100 for 2010.  Nice surprise.

 6:30 PM  Break over.  Begin working on legal brief. 

6:35 PM Discover work computer has "Pac Man" installed on it.

9:30 PM  High Score achieved on Pac Man.  Decide to go home after wrist starts hurting.  Note to self:  research workers compensation claim due to wrist injury.

10:00 PM    Finally home. Kiss the wife hello and doze off to sleep on the couch.

Bill Murray with Nutmeg Lawyer
11:00 PM  Startled awake again to riffs of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck"  I fumble for the phone to find client had called to apologize for previous night's late call. Starting to feel like Bill Murray in "Ground Hog Day"  Decided to change the "emergency line's" ring tone to the Pennslyvania Polka.  I head to bed to prepare for another day.


Mike Treadway said...

Nice to know that we all have bad days. Your post made my week. I forwarded it to the entire office.

It's even posted on our break room fridge. Very funny stuff.

Tonya said...

I don't know if any of this is true but I was in tears from repressed laughter. Hilarious.

Adrian Mark Baron said...

Sadly, this was an actual day. I took a little poetic license with the timing of the closing which actually occurred on another day.
Admittedly, I did not get the high score on Pacman

JARLATH said...

LMAO... Now, where's my contract?

Barbara said...

wow. Adrian, you made me not regret the decision to go for my MBA instead of going to law school. And I thought commercial finance and banking was a bad area! LOL

Adrian M. Baron said...

Kidding aside. the practice of law can be very rewarding

Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. said...


I'm still laughing! Fabulous post, as always.

Congrats on the ABA's Top 100! It is well deserved!

Douglas J. said...

Adrian, you are too much. I forwarded this to my students to ease their stress before final exams. I had tears in my eyes.

PS I look forward to future posts. I recently discovered you through the ABA Journal