My dog died today. We found him dead at lunch time. To compound things I found out right before leaving the office that I needed to be in two places at the same time right after lunch. I was scheduled for Court in Ventura at 1:30 p.m. and got a call that the DA was filing on another client in the Juvenile Court over in Oxnard and setting the hearing for 1:30 p.m. No big deal I had my Assistant call the Ventura Court and tell them I would be running late.
But there I was – I was supposed to be having lunch – but instead my dog was dead – my wife was emotional – okay my wife was hysterical! – and I had to go back to work and I still needed some lunch (when I say I NEEDED SOME LUNCH – I mean it – I am diabetic and must eat regularly in order to keep my blood sugar level.)
So I wrapped up my dog so the wife wouldn’t have to – I managed to force down a sandwich – kissed my wife and gave her a big hug – and headed off to Court – of course on the way I broke down and cried like a baby remembering my dog – his name is Dillon.
When I got to court and got out of my car I could feel something – I can only describe it as a feeling of professionalism – it totally took over my mind and body – I went from being a bowl of Jell-0 to being an attorney again. My mind focused on the task at hand and as I entered the courthouse nobody else could tell there was an emotional volcano inside me.
Fortunately I beat the client to court and had time to speak with the Bailiff, clerk and DA before the client arrived. The client was of course emotional because his son was being held in custody and we were there to try and get the judge to release the son. He also believed the police and prosecutor were out to get his son and I needed to calm him down before he spoke to the judge. The DA was objecting and we needed to focus on what we would say to convince the judge.
To make things worse – after the DA handling the matter stated his objections – the senior DA from the Juvenile Unit asked to address the court and again reiterate the people’s objection to release of my client. It all seems like a blur now – but somehow I did what needed to be done and said what needed to be said and the judge agreed to release my client to his father.
I hurried over to Ventura and handled my case – it was a snap – we already knew the Probation Department wanted more time to complete their report and so we continued the matter – I went to the clerk’s office and handled some business for another client – then went home to help my wife with our dog.
Driving home it occurred to me what I had just been through – it was, in many ways, a typical day – except that I felt numb like the whole experience was not real – and I wondered how on earth I managed to handle my clients’ matters competently in my emotional state. The answer I believe is training, experience and procedures.
I’ve trained – well all my life really – to be a lawyer. Law school was the formal training, but when I stop and reflect, many times I have decided to do or not do something because I felt it would either help or hinder me in my quest to become an attorney.
Since becoming an attorney I have learned many lessons – mostly that there is no substitute for experience – even though I have mentors with experience to guide me there is nothing like doing something myself to really make it sink into my memory. I have been practicing law for 14 years now and I really believe that experience helped me out here.
The other element was procedures – our office trains its attorneys and paralegals on multiple procedures – calendaring – time management – information management and of course the importance of being prepared before going to court.
Because of my training and experience I was able to act impromptu to argue and convince the judge to release one client. And because of our law firm’s well established procedures I was prepared before I went to Court .
So after all that I feel like we are prepared to handle any case – anytime – no matter what!