In early 2009, I was assigned a new file from a partner at my firm. He came in with a couple pieces of paper and said “Here you go, a new construction case for you.” I glanced down at it. It seemed like a simple case, an apartment complex was built badly. A bunch of construction defects. We were retained to represent the concrete installer on the project. No problem, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I had my assistant open the file and went on to address my other cases.
Little did I know when I was handing my assistant those papers what this seemingly simple case was about to do to my life. The case started as a simple state court case with about 8 parties. It soon EXPLODED into a federal litigation with 20 plus parties. When it started, I thought my client was just named because it had worked on the project…months later I found out we are a major player.
This case is by far the largest case of my career. Pretty much every large law firm in the state of Iowa is involved in this case. The federal judge mandated that we set aside 1 week every month, and 2 weeks every other month for depositions in this case. That is not an easy task when you have 100’s of other files waiting for your attention. Early on, I had to bring aboard another associate here to help me handle this case. With Todd’s schedule and the kids there was just no way I could saddle this load all by myself. But even with the excellent help, it’s a major load to haul!
I lovingly call this case “L’s case”. No, my nearly 6 month old son has nothing to do with the facts of this case and is not involved in anyway, but he has become sort of the mascot to this case. When I look at him I am reminded how long this case has consumed my life.
The case was assigned to me when L was just a twinkle in my eye. I was a few months away from being pregnant with him when the case hit my desk. This case has progressed through his creation and life and so when I think of this case I always think of him.
In September I found out I was pregnant with L. I can remember the depositions early on in my pregnancy when I would sit there and think “I wish they would hurry up” as my morning sickness was bad with L. I can remember the depositions later on in my pregnancy when a boring construction expert’s deposition would be interrupted by countless kicks from L. And I’ll never forget the depositions 1 week before L was born when I started feeling contractions and was sure L was going to be born in the Marriott conference room!
And while my pregnancy daily updates informed me that L was growing from a poppy seed, to a grape, kiwi, lemon, eggplant, and eventually a cantaloupe, L’s case was growing too. First it was one expandable file, then a drawer, then an entire file cabinet, until it finally had to be moved from my office and given its own home out by my assistant. The file became massive which thousands of blueprints, specifications, and photos.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, it even became a longstanding joke amongst the attorneys. One attorney started a game during one of the depositions to count how many times I left to go to the bathroom!! They would “take bets” as to the number early on in the day. And yes, because L was a big baby that always seemed to want to rest right on my bladder the person who picked 10 plus was usually right!
L was born and after I returned from my leave L’s case still continued. L is now about to turn 6 months old and when I look at him I am reminded how long and drawn out this case has been. L gives “age” to the case in a unique way.
This week I traveled to the mediation in L’s case. I was crossing fingers and toes that the case would get settled and I could start to get my life back. This case as you can imagine has been a main focus of my work life. L’s case has a lot of unique challenges ahead of me, challenges I have never had to face in my career to date. The largest challenge? The trial is scheduled for 4 weeks, 2 ½ hours away from my house. I can’t even imagine how I am going to try a month long trial and commute back and forth across state.
L’s case didn’t settle this week and the madness lives on. On one hand I am upset it didn’t settle because my life would be much easier with that case behind me. But, on the other hand, just as L is my baby, this case has also become my baby in many respects. Although I complain about it all the time, I will miss this case when it is wrapped up. This case has challenged me on all fronts of my career, it has taught me how to manage a huge file, and has me going toe to toe with several great attorneys in our state and across the midwest. Any litigator who is passionate about trial work would love this case…I’m one of those litigators.
L will be about a year old when his case is finally tried. From a twinkle in my eye to a 1 year old …its amazing the progression of a case when you look at it through the eyes of your child. And when L’s much older if he ever has self-doubts about something, I’ll remind him how good he really is. I mean come on, he’s tried a major federal construction litigation case with me before he was 1 year old!