I’ve mentioned before that I spent a fair amount of time in the Principal’s Office throughout my school years. Nothing major - usually - just the typical mischievous boy who thrived on getting myself into sticky situations. Most of the time, I didn’t actually end up in any real trouble, thanks to my willingness to argue my way out of it. Or, reason my way out, as I called it. I’m not sure now if I ever actually won or if my opponent just gave up, but either way, it worked.
It was this eagerness and ability to successfully make my case that led more than one of my teachers to suggest I look for a career as an attorney. I did consider it but never made any effort to follow through since doing so would have required college and law school - I wasn’t that fond of school.
Later in life however, I did get the chance to go to court and argue my case. No, not because I was on trial, this was a civil matter. As the old saying goes, “A man who represents himself has a fool for a client.” I’d like to think I’m not a fool so, I didn’t act as my own attorney, not exactly anyway.
The lawyer I’d hired, after a few days of discussing my case, and hearing all my arguments, decided that I should prepare the case myself. She would argue in court, but until then it was up to me. She showed me how to prepare court documents and a few other legal things and then said I was on my own. She did want to be kept informed of what I was doing and we met weekly for a few months as I worked to build my case.
I was elated! Playing lawyer was more fun than I could have imagined! What’s even better, my attorney paid me for the time I spent working for her! We had agreed on her price beforehand and this was reduced by a few thousand dollars by the time it was over.
Although this was a civil matter, I did stand to lose quite a bit of money, and my job if I lost, so the pressure was on. I stayed up late at night, finding anything I could to bolster my case. I created graphs from information obtained from unknowing sources (people like to provide information even when they don’t know they are), searched old court cases, prepared documents, and laid out a plan of action. I even wrote the questions for my attorney to ask in court.
On the date of our hearing, we showed up in court with a stack of papers nearly a foot tall - all my hard work over the last few months. The opposing side had almost nothing.
For the most part, my attorney followed what I’d prepared. It was kind of awesome listening to my own words, my own arguments being made for me by someone else. Someone who was a professional. And then, a few hours later, the good news - we won!
Afterwards, talking with the attorney, I mentioned how much I appreciated her letting me work on the case since I’d never had any legal education or experience.
She laughed and said, “That may be true, but you do know how to present an argument and back it up. So, somewhere you must have had some sort of experience.”
Uh, yeah. Maybe the Principal’s Office?