Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't Lie to Your Attorney

Twice in the ten months that I have been a practicing attorney I've been working on a case that has been in litigation for a year or more when the client called the office to say something along the lines of, "by the way, that information/document/evidence I gave you last year was untrue/stolen/only half the story." Getting a bombshell like that only a month or two months or even six months before trial is just the worst. For an attorney, working with unfavorable facts is a challenge; finding out you've been working with incomplete facts is a disaster. No matter how bad the information looks, there is no good reason to hold out on your lawyer.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trials Move Fast

George F. Will wrote,
Of all the silly and sentimental things said about baseball, none is sillier than the description of the game as 'unhurried' or 'leisurely.' . . . There is barely enough time between pitches for all the thinking that is required, and that the best players do, in processing the changing information about the crucial variables.
The same thing might be said of trials. From the point of view of a spectator (or a juror), a trial moves glacially. The lawyers go through esoteric procedures to get documents into evidence, ask witnesses repetitive questions, and take frequent breaks to argue points of law.
From the point of view of the lawyers (and the judge), a trial is a relentless procession of snap decisions--several per minute. It's exciting and exhausting. I'm glad I have a job that gets me into the courtroom from time to time, but I'd hate to do it every day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's More than One Way to Leave a Courtroom

The last time I was in one of Little Rock's new federal courtrooms, a Bailiff slipped in through a door on one side of the room. The door was so gracefully set into the wood paneling that I had not noticed it before. What caught my attention was the view beyond: a bare cinder block hallway. I guess if you're in court to be sentenced, the velvet-and-mahogany treatment ends at the exit door.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Making Law

When I was in law school, a professor told me that one of the best things about practicing law in Arkansas was the frequent opportunity to make new law. You see, Arkansas is not a particularly litigious place, so a lot of legal questions are still undecided here.

I have found my professor's assessment to be accurate. Twice in five months I have had to ask a court to apply a statute or principle that has never been used in Arkansas before. It's fun to think that a case I'm working on now might be cited as precedent in a few years.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Have you had the experience of going out of town for a few days, then coming home and feeling a little disoriented by your everyday life? It's as if you've been to an alternate universe, and have to re-learn your old routines. I find that going to court has a similar effect. I've participated in two full-on, multi-day trials now, and on both occasions I have come back to the office feeling as if I had been to some far-away place for a very long time. The courtroom really is a kind of alternate universe where different rules apply.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rejection Letter

I got an email from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission yesterday informing me that I have not been selected for hire. I don't know what I applied for or when, but it has to have been before January 15. Their vetting process for job applications must be incredibly thorough.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Emotional Roller Coaster

I ran away to law school because I thought accounting was too boring. I'm not bored anymore, but I am stressed.
It's a major thrill to file a big, beautiful brief that busts the opposition's chops with a perfectly crafted legal argument. On the other hand, it's a real punch in the gut to get a brief from the other side and have to read a twenty-page takedown of that argument. Either way, the adrenaline rush is continuous. My hair is much grayer now than it was when I applied to law school. I hope it makes me look experienced.