Friday, August 09, 2013

Counsel?


(This is a photo from the aft deck en route to Alaska.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this post.  But look!  Pretty!)

When I was in 3rd grade, we hung projects in the hallway that described what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I still recall mine - the wide-ruled notebook paper beside a hand-drawn picture upon which we posted a school photo of our faces.

Crayon-drawn Katie (with actual-photo head) was standing in a courtroom, emerging as a victorious lawyer from some undoubtedly critical case.  I had, after all, seen lawyers on TV and that's what I wanted to do.  Aid the downtrodden.  Give voice to the wrongfully accused.  Fight the power.

Then I grew up.

And met some actual lawyers.

And quickly adjusted my goals.

Now, some 25 years later (crap - can that be right?), I find myself with a fondness for most of the lawyerly with whom I'm acquainted.  They know big words.  They think with a certain clarity.  They ask interesting questions and can often distill complex situations into the most relevant points.

But have you met a corporate lawyer?

I have.  A few of them.

[Q: Are you able to define 'a few'?
A: I don't remember exactly.
Q: Do you know more than 1 corporate lawyer?
A: Yes.
Q: More than 2?
A: Yes.
Q: More than 10?
A: Probably not.
Q: So less than 10?
A:  I think so.
Q: More than 5?
A: Yes.
Q: More than 7?
A: Yes.  Eight, OK?  I've met eight corporate lawyers.
And that's why you want to stab yourself or others with a pencil during a deposition.  Because who cares?]
I will admit that sometimes that attention to detail - that application of knowledge and definition of fact and separation from opinion or interpretation - can be exquisitely useful.  When I have a complicated problem and need direction?

I call counsel.

Ah, but then...  They trick you into thinking they're lovely people.  Bright, funny, wonderful conversational companions!

So you start a conversation and ask for a simple contract to be drafted.  And even if you're not feeling super-great because August 13 is next week and you really, really miss your dad, you're trying hard to focus on work and get stuff done because that's a nice distraction.

And Lawyer 1 says, "Wait.  I don't think this is in scope of the procedure."

So you say, "No, no.  It is.  Blah, blah, explanation, blah, blah."

And Lawyer 2 (helpful tip from Katie - Never Let Lawyers Form Groups) gets all concerned and wants to Stop Everything while you look up the procedure and discuss the contract and examine the request and start from the very beginning again so we're sure we really understand.

Growing impatient, you look up the formal document and read it to your lawyer friends that you're starting to hate a little bit.  You explain the situation again.  In the middle of your explanation, maybe you use the wrong word.

And they pounce - both of them - voices going accusatory while they chortle between them in their lawyerly way and - even though you watch Law & Order reruns and know not to get upset or otherwise emotional - you do get upset and emotional.  And start to think you're wrong.  You're a terrible person.  Oh, this is awful - how you've willfully attempted to break the rules and ruin everything!  And you're sorry.  You'll start over.

But you keep thinking about it - on the drive to and from work, on your walks with your blind dog - and you realize that you're not wrong.  You may have misspoken but they're wrong.  And this wasn't on the record or written down.

So when you - well, when I - pushed back, I pushed back hard.  Explained my request again.  Indicated that if they thought I was out of order, they could prove it to me.  And until then - since we run a business - the time it took to escalate and get a decision (as corporate lawyers seem to really struggle to make decisions, bless their 'let's debate this some more' hearts) was going to be measured as 'legal delay.'

So now I feel mean - as they pointed out that it was uncharacteristic of me to 1) push back with such vitriol (my word - not theirs.  I know big words too!  I looked it up to make sure I was right but I had the general idea) and 2) demand others do work that I otherwise would have done myself.

I also feel ineffective as these lawyers will take months (and months) (and more months) to make this decision and I'm effectively halting my project because I'm pissy.

There's no good conclusion here - I'm standing my ground even if it is a bit shaky underneath me.  But I have two points.  1) If I had been a lawyer and ended up working for a large company, I would be much better at it.  And 2) I would like to request independent counsel.  I just need to find out how to  make sure said independent counsel if viciously efficient and effective.  I shall try to find someone from a television show.

Thank you.  Please see irrelevant photo of a glacier below.



3 comments:

physioprof said...

Lawyers are complete dickes and they get paid exactly for sounding like they are totally right and everyone else is totally wrong even when they have no fucken idea what they are talking about.

JaneB said...

I love wakes of ships, can stare at them for hours and hours.

Also, the only lawyer I know who is also a friend works in publishing making sure authors get their rights in contracts. The corporate ones are all no longer friends because really, who wants to feel stupid and wrong and blind-sided every 20 minutes or so in a conversation? And they just think they're being smart and even (shudder) helpful...

Psycgirl said...

Katie these are beautiful photos, as always :) It's nice to see you back

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