Editors Note: As I did on Tuesday, I’ve ask another talented writer to step in for me as this week has taken it’s toll on my funny bone. This time, I’ve asked my friend Daisy, to give us a story from her time in litigation. If you like what you see here, she blogs about married life, food, her dog and (occasionally) the law both on her personal blog, Daisy, Just Daisy and the ravishingly successful group blog, Curvy Girl Guide. I’ll be back soon, I promise.
Back in the day, before I left the big bad world of litigation to join the ranks of corporate attorneys, I was a law clerk at what some consider to be a prestigious, fast paced litigation firm in Chicago. It wasn’t long before I joined the ranks of senior law clerk, which meant I was less important than the newest and youngest paralegal but more important than the newest and youngest law clerk. The totem pole isn’t hard to figure out at law firms and if you are nothing but a law student, well get in line behind the receptionist and the mail guy during that holiday luncheon.
The partner I worked for was in-between associates and as luck would have it he had a huge multi-defendant trial come up while I worked for him. I drew the double-bonus card when the partner who stepped up to second chair with him was also without an associate. That left me, senior law clerk extraordinaire to draft all the written filings, deal with all the exhibits, deal with our client and deliver coffee in a double-hurry. It was awful, painstaking and totally awesome for a 3L like myself who’d rather sit in a courtroom and take notes than attend yet another lecture. I wore pretty suits (and wrote some damn good motions including a motion to reconsider that was granted) and generally thought I was hot stuff.
Obviously I needed to be brought down a peg or five million.
During the extremely lengthy voir dire (which was thanks to the complexity of the issues as well as the fact that the trial was going to span over Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Festivus, Kwanzaa and New Years), I was sitting in the first bench and leaned over during a break to hand some papers to my bosses. It was at that moment that the judge, in her full robes and with terrifying malice in her voice demanded that I meet her in chambers.
My bosses looked at me, furious.
The fleet of defense attorneys looked at me, amused. I shook the entire way back to the door to chambers. Clearly I had committed a cardinal sin and was about to be kicked out of her courtroom and probably law school. I reached the back hallway and the judge peered at me, furious but silent. She looked me up and down. I shook some more.
Finally she spoke.
“Oh. You are wearing a shirt.”
What? A shirt? Of course I was wearing a shirt. I was wearing thick black tights, high end (appropriate) pumps, a knee length pencil skirt with a matching jacket and a blouse underneath. The blouse was buttoned about as high as it would go….but it was a light peachy beige color.
As in the color of my skin. (I’m pale, what can I say.)
And the judge, without an apology or explanation stormed back into the court room leaving me to slowly shuffle back in and under my breath explain what happened to my bosses. Luckily, they thought it was hilarious. So did the legions of defense counsel. I didn’t and I went home and threw the shirt away.
Sometimes people ask why I left litigation. Call me crazy but I’m not the lawyer that wants to be known for not wearing shirts to court… or at least being accused of not wearing shirts.
I mean after all, they only accuse you if you did something wrong.