Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Brilliant Legal Mind at Work

That's me. Bigshot Attorney. I call that particular photo my "Come Hither Headshot." Flamingo Joe likes it, but I don't think it made it to the firm website (back a year or more ago when I was at the firm where the picture was taken).

I post that photo here so that you can have a visual of what I looked like in court today. I don't like court that much. I limit myself to bankruptcy court these days and only go there if I can't avoid it. Today was one of those days.

I had a hearing scheduled for today on a motion I prepared and filed to obtain certain relief for my clients. Opposing counsel was one of the staff attorneys for the chapter 13 trustee's office. As I had filed the motion, there was really no getting around the fact that I had to show up. Several weeks ago when I had prepared the motion I thought I probably had a 50/50 shot of winning some of what I asked for.

Then I did the research. Today.

I pulled and reviewed the applicable case law and saw pretty quickly that I was going to lose this hearing in a big way. It was going to be a humiliating defeat and not only were all the other attorneys in the courtroom going to be laughing at me and rolling their eyes, but the judge might actually yell at me for daring to file such a motion where the case law was so perfectly clear -- how dare I waste her time? So I spent the three hours prior to the hearing agonizing over how to state my argument in such a way that I would not appear to be as much of a moron as I clearly am.

On my way to the hearing, I started thinking that I could avoid the humiliation by conferring with the staff attorney beforehand and maybe get her to agree to throw my clients a wee little bone and then we could just announce to the judge that we had come to an agreement and that my clients were going to get a wee little something of the big thing I had asked for and I wouldn't have to make any of my humiliating argument at all.

So when I arrived at the courtroom approximately 10 minutes before the 3:00 docket, the staff attorney was already in a conference with someone else, so I watched the minutes tick quickly by while the long-winded attorney holding the staff attorney's attention droned on and on. If he didn't hurry up, I was going to have to get yelled at by the judge for being so stupid. At 2:58, the staff attorney was finally free, so I swooped in, my stomach in knots, and started in on a good grovel. My head was down, I started out with a remorseful sounding "ummm . . ." and then the staff attorney noticed me and kind of smiled. I said, "Umm, hi . . I'm here on the X case . . . " The staff attorney said, "Oh yes. Hi . . . I don't have any objection to your motion. We can announce it when the case is called."

I was stunned, but tried so so hard NOT to look like it. I tried to appear as though I knew all along that my motion, of course, was so perfect, legally-speaking, that by all means I knew I would win. I thought maybe the staff attorney had gotten it wrong and misheard the case I was talking about, so I waited on pins and needles for the case to be called and the staff attorney to say, "We have no objection to the motion, I'll submit an order granting it." And she did!

But the problem with the wonderful outcome at that hearing today is this: I have no idea why I won. I couldn't ask the staff attorney why ("Tell me, staff attorney, what was the key fact or legal argument, as it were, that caused you to concede defeat?") -- because I should know why I won, right? I had researched the cases, though, and none of them supported me. And I know that the trustee's office knows those cases inside and out, which means that I must have raised the one exception to the cases.

But I don't know what the exception is.

I will admit, though, that winning and not knowing why is waaaay better than losing and not knowing why.


  1. It could be that sometimes, good things happen to good people. Enjoy the win! (and let's get the boys together next week.) Diane L.

  2. In law school you should have learned that a win is a win is a win is a win. You take them as they come and gloat over them.Then stress to your client how your good lawyering and preparation will overwhelm the opposition everytime. The other side is this,remember the wins, because when the loses come, you can then say, "Win a few, lose a few, and a few get rained out." PopPop

  3. Whatever the reason for your win, great job! You did awesome ! May all your cases go as smoothly (minus the stomach knots)! Ahlem.

  4. Wow - I got knots just reading this story....what a relief!



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