The advantage of a being the young and dumb associate attorney in the office is that the partners do not want to waste their time dealing with the cases that aren’t likely to lead to anything in terms of settlement. That’s where I come in. Typically on short notice the partner on the case will decide that they have better things to do (read: golf) and will send me to cover a deposition regarding a matter that I know nothing about. As the diligent employee I am, I went off fat, dumb and happy without knowing much of the details about the case.
Like really, I knew next to nothing about the client. All I was told was to (1) go to a doctor’s deposition, (2) stay awake and (3) ask a few questions about causation without it blowing it up my face. I didn’t even have the client’s medical records to help me ask questions because my partner
was skirting the line between cheap ass and malpractice believed that this case was worth, at most, five thousand dollars and, thus, he hadn’t subpoenaed the records.
Into the deposition I go and thankfully, this was the defense counsel’s deposition and so they got to ask questions first. I listen intently, I take copious notes, I have issues understanding the medical terminology being discussed and finally, it’s my turn to ask questions.
Doctor, my name is Namby and I represent the Plaintiff in this case. My learned colleague here has asked you a lot of questions about my client and I just have a few followups that I would like you to clarify for me. My one caveat is that I am not a doctor so I am going to need you to talk to me like I am an abject moron using small words without too many syllables. Do you think you can do that for me?
Just like that, I was off and running. For whatever reason (maybe it was my plea for plain speak), the doctor transformed into someone that sounded (a) human and (b) like he spoke English while he was making my case for me.
The deposition ended and defense counsel and I walked out of the room together discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of a settlement. “That deposition went really well for you. I think you should send me a settlement demand immediately.” Upon returning to the office, I relay to the powers that be how well the deposition went and the message from defense counsel. Understandably, the partners are shocked and giddy as schoolgirls. Even more so when several weeks later the case settled.
Remember when I said that the partner thought this case was worth, at most, five thousand dollars? It settled for almost 100 times that amount.