Monday, August 29, 2011

Curve Balls

Well, if you follow my blog you may be wondering why it is now after 4:00 p.m. and I am now just posting my post for the week. My norm is to post my musings first thing in the morning, but alas, today I was a victim of something that plagues most working Moms…the curve ball.

You of course know the curve ball. You’ll be going along on an idle Tuesday at find out at 2:35 p.m. that you have a brief due at 3:15 p.m. The deposition that you were sure would last 45 minutes ends up taking 4 hours. You’re in a hearing when opposing counsel brings up a brand new case that you never heard of. You wake up on the day of trial to a child with a 102 degree fever. Instantly you are bumped off your smooth course and whacked by the blasted curve ball.

My curve ball day started before the sun. My alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. and after my standard protocol of 2 snooze button pushes, I climbed out of bed. My first stop was to wake up J, get her out of bed, showered, and ready for school. Of course as my luck would have it, it was picture day and so I couldn’t just throw my daughter’s long hair up into a casual ponytail and call it good. Nope, my ever fashionable daughter received a shower and amateur blow out.

This would normally be no big deal, but I was in a hurry as I had to meet the senior partner of my firm down in front of my law firm at 7:45 a.m. to head to a client meeting. He had a hearing and my instructions on Friday were that I was to attend the meeting with him to help him prepare the clients.

So after I hugged and kissed my family I headed off to work and arrived in front of my firm with exactly 2 minutes to spare before my 7:45 a.m. meeting time. My partner picked me up and off we went to the meeting.
Now this particular partner and I work together all the time. He’s my mentor and for the past 6 years that I have worked at my firm the one person I work the most with. I work on nearly all his cases and I have always waited for an opportunity to get to try a case together. I love working with him, especially handling the challenges he throws my way.
So there we were at the meeting. My partner asked me to prep the clients about what we needed to prove. After I finished my off the cuff remarks, my partner asked the client: “Is it okay if Amanda tries the case with me?”
The client agreed. Instantly I had a surge of excitement mixed with a side of panic rush over me. This was going to be my opportunity to try a case together and I literally had 2 hour notice it was going to occur.
Now the one thing I have always loved about working with my partner is our “team approach”to cases. We try cases differently. I am extremely organized. I subfolder and binder nearly everything. My partner has always amazed me because he doesn’t need the organization to function, he can sound brillant without the outline and charts I need to function.
So often what happens is what I call “the nod”. We’ll be at a hearing or court appearance…my partner will be talking with the Court:

            “Judge: Now what is your theory of the case counsel?
Partner: Well it’s simple, the theory is well settled in the case of Jones v. Jones…INSERT HEAD NOD TOWARD MANDI HERE.
The head nod means “Mandi, hand that to me” or "Mandi how do we respond". The head nod often comes when I least expect it so I have to be ready.  Now I have worked with my partner long enough to predict his moves, but he is such an excellent litigator that often he’ll start down a path totally unexpected and yep, the nod will come.
As we left the client meeting, my partner said “Well, we finally get to try one together. Get us ready”.  As I walked into my office my pulse started to quicken, I had exactly 2 hours to get everything in line. Now luckily I’ve been working on this case since its inception so I know it front and back, but still I had to make sure I was organized. Lucky for me one of my favorite activities as a litigator is to prepare for trial so I was excited for the challenge.
My first step was simple. I ran to my assistant (who is hyper organized like me) and said “I’m trying a case at 1”. Without me even saying it, my assistant knew we’d have to bring our organization to the file quickly. She took the exhibits and placed them in a binder for me and got the file back into a state I could feel comfortable with.

I spent the next two hours trying to anticipate every argument, every nod. I wanted to make sure that if this was the first time we tried something together I brought my A game.

I called my husband and asked him to bring me my suit coat as I had started my day in my favorite black "sort of a suit coat looking, but not quite", sweater…my go to piece for a day I don’t have to be in court but I might see a client. I didn’t want to head into a trial with my sweater. My husband complied after I had to clarify that I was looking for the khaki, not brown suit coat. I then went into the bathroom stall and in superman fashion came out trial ready.

We went into the trial. It went great. I anticipated the head nods, had every exhibit in front of him before he asked. We hit all the points on the “proof chart” that I always make when I try cases. We did a great job.

So, now here I am 4:12 p.m. back in the office and just happy to have survived the curve ball my Monday took. Finally I get to breathe a little.

My life is full of curve balls and so today is nothing new to me. But I wanted to share my curve ball day to praise us working Moms who have to deal with curve balls being thrown at us not only by our jobs but by our kids as well. Our lives are just big proverbial games of dodge ball...we'll keep on dodging everything coming at us while we pray that we don’t get hit right smack in the forehead when we least expect it!


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