Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What happened? I blacked out

I don’t ever want to think that I am getting the hang of this lawyer thing.

I know that I need to have more practice at certain critical aspects of the practice of law. This mentality of realizing that I am so close to failing keeps me on my toes and to always be learning, watching, and adapting. A fear of losing is my motivation.

This is the long-winded set up to the fact that I had a contentious motion argument today on a motion (and a case) that is entirely my own project. The process of investigating, assembling, drafting, and re-writing took about three months.

This was the first motion that I have ever worked on of this nature in my career. When I first got the assignment, I had no idea what I was doing. To make matters worse, this is not the run of the mill motion that everyone does. I asked four different attorneys for copies of similar motions and none of them had one (only one could recall ever doing one). The legal research performed was vague and not particular insightful. In other words, I was flying blind.

As I was walking into the courtroom, I just so happened to remember that I hadn’t done anything more than skim the opposing brief. Whoops. Then I remembered that I knew the factual based argument of my position, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the legal standard that I was arguing. Double whoops. Further realizations then occurred that I didn’t have specific facts on the tip of my tongue. Triple…well you get the picture.

There I am, furiously reading through my motion, my supporting documentation, and the opposing brief as I awaited the judge to enter the courtroom. I am totally sure that my opposing counsel who was sitting next to me was wondering what sort of nitwit he was about to wipe the floor with. All I knew as I was walking towards the judge, the law and the facts favored my opponent. But something amazing happened: I won.

The long end of the short of it is, I have little to no idea what I’m doing a lot of the time. Apparently, that bodes well for my clients.