Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Smarter than the Average Attorney?

I hope everyone had a nice July 4th holiday weekend.  For those of you studying for the bar, I am sure the weekend was filled with anxiety as the exam date approaches.  I know more than one law student who called the police on independence revelers who dared shoot off fireworks as they tried to study.  As you study for the bar, I would like to share what happened to me this weekend.  A glimpse of what it is like to work in a small firm.  The following is based on actual events.
Although the staff had the weekend off, I was scheduled to do a closing on a refinance for a long time client.  Held early on Saturday morning, the client was supposed to bring her husband to the closing because his name was on the title for her house.  The bank documents required the husband's original signature.  Nevertheless, he had decided to skip the proceedings and left for vacation early that very morning.  No one felt the need to run it by me.

"Not to worry.  I did bring Mishka.  Could she sign the documents?" the client joked.  I glanced down at my client's purse and realized that she had actually brought her cat to the closing.  
As I often did in these types of situations, I excused myself and went into my office.  I screamed into a pillow while staring at my law degree.  Wiping away the tears, I blew my nose and returned to the conference room refreshed.  "OK let's begin."  

Born in the Ukraine, my client did not speak any English. She was, however, fluent in Polish. I would have to review the bank's documents with her entirely in the latter language.  I would have to do this as her cat Mishka incessantly meowed her loud disapproval of being stuck in a cat purse.  "May I let Miska stretch her legs?"  "Of course", I answered hoping it would shut the cat up.

As I reviewed the pile of documents with my client, the nimble cat jumped upon conference table and began swatting at the paperwork. "Look, Mishka wants to be a lawyer" cooed the client.  As a side note, I love animals.  But Mishka was no ordinary cat.  I think she had a vendetta against me.  As she grew bored of the pile of HUD statements, mortgage documents and financial notes I had painstakingly prepared, the frisky feline set her sights on our leather conference room chairs. 

"No Mishka. Bad Cat" her owner shouted in Polish.  Apparently, the cat did not understand Ukranian either.  The reprimand from her owner was too much to bear.   She leered at us with a look that seemed to say "How dare you speak to Mishka this way?"  The pretentious kitty showed her displeasure by leaving a gift on my  conference room floor.  I still don't know what end the "gift" came out of.  "No Mishka.  Bad Cat." she shouted again in Polish.  The cat bolted out of the conference room.  "Please, Help me find Mishka!" 

With a sigh, I helped search for the cat. After a fifteen minute search, we captured the elusive fugitive and returned to the conference room to finish the closing.   "We found Mishka. Now where is your husband?" I asked.  "He must sign these documents otherwise the closing cannot be completed.  The signatures must be originals"   "He is camping in New Hampshire. " she answered.  "Of course he is".

With the documents and a portable scanner in hand, I bid adieu to Mishka and began the second act of my day.  I set off from Connecticut and began my quest to the woods of New Hampshire.  The elusive husband had gone camping to a place called Jellystone Park. With no cell phone coverage and on a motorcycle, I could not meet him half way.  After speaking to Ranger Rick, I eventually found my target in a sea of tents, campers and cabins.  "Why weren't you at the closing?"  I asked.  "The real estate agent said I didn't have to be there."  Of course she did.  Placing my briefcase on an over-sized picnic basket, I observed him sign the paperwork under the watchful glare of large Yogi the Bear statue.  I got back in my car and left the campsite within minutes.

As I drove back to Connecticut, I could see fireworks exploding in the distance. I smiled to myself over the day's events.  It was just one of those days you often run into in the practice of law.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Well, OK. Maybe, I could do without the cat.  


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be "picinic basket?" And which of the 4 actors in this drama is boo-boo?
Than again, my thanks for influencing my choice. I might have wasted this sunny day with that LSAT prep course.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post. We all have days like this. OK maybe not quite like this...

Cliff Tuttle said...

Chasing clients to get missing signatures __ I did it too early this weekend. Its what you do to not make everything else you have done up to now a nullity and not get paid for it, to boot. But don't tell my wife -- I will face an ear beating in either case. Chasing the client or not getting paid. So if I am going to be verbally tortured in either event, I'd rather get paid.

Cliff Tuttle
Award-winning author of
Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk
Which celebrates its Third Birthday
on July 7, 2011