To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day, a heck of a day. Jim Valvano
I get in the office about 7:30. The day is going to be a busy one. This morning, I’m getting a client divorced, testifying as an “expert”, and trying a breach of contract case in the afternoon.
I begin making sure that the documents for the divorce are in perfect order. As I’m working on this, I get an email notifying me of this review. I break down in tears. The burden of representing a family who has sustained such a loss is heavy. Most of the time I repress this burden. But it’s there. And sometimes it hits me. This is one of those times.
After everything is in order, I talk with another lawyer in my office suite. We work through a problem that he has in one of his cases. Helping another lawyer makes me feel good.
I drive to court. It’s going to be a long day. I shun street parking in favor of the lot near the court. The lot isn’t paved. There are rocks.
As I get out of my car, my phone falls out of my pocket. Right on to a rock. In the game of rock v. phone – rock wins. My phone is smashed. Worse it starts malfunctioning. It’ll be a day without my lifeline.
I head into court and finalize the divorce documents with my clients and opposing counsel. We head in before the judge. As I start questioning my client my phone rings. Before the hearing – I had set my phone to mute. But the rock not only beat my screen it beat my mute button.
The judge is not pleased. “Counsel…that’ll be $25 to the charity of your choice. You have 7 days to get proof of payment to the judge’s sectretary.”
I’m thrown off my game. I bumble through an easy uncontested divorce hearing. Suddenly finding myself unable to pronounce “irretriveable”.
But the divorce gets finalized. My client is happy.
I dust myself off and head over to housing court. For the first time, I am taking the witness stand in court. I’ve questioned dozens and dozens of witnesses. Never taken the seat next to the judge. Never sworn an oath.
I’m nervous. The testimony I’m about to give is not complicated. But I’m still nervous. I’m being asked to testify about housing law. I know I’m going to be cross examined. I try to be the witness that I want as a lawyer. Clean and crisp answers to questions.
I give about 15 minutes of testimony. It is uneventful. I head off the witness stand and out of court.
It’s about 11:45. I walk over to the Kitchen at Billings Forge. Their curry chicken salad is all kinds of awesome. I order it. I enjoy it.
Over lunch, I access the Kitchen’s wifi on my Macbook. I login to Achilles CT‘s site and make my $25 donation. Because my phone rang, an athlete will get a paid entry fee. This makes me happy. I fax my receipt to the judge’s secretary. Penance has been made.
As I’m sitting there in the Kitchen. I think of my life. My practice. The richness of it. The blessings in it. Eating lunch by yourself is underrated.
There’s still some time before my 2:00 hearing. I head over to criminal court. I meet up with a friend who is a public defender. We talk about the futility of the system. Seeing a friend is always nice.
Then I head into Superior Court. I meet my client. We review the documents for the hearing. In a few minutes the defendant joins us. We talk about the case. Civilly. We reach an agreement on what is owed. Everyone is happy. A hearing will be avoided.
We go into court. There are about 40 cases on the docket. I stand up at the call and tell the court the word’s it likes to hear “we have an agreement, your honor”. Our case was number 32 on the list. We jump to the first position. The judge calls us up and we enter a fair and just settlement as an order of the court.
We leave the court together. Making small talk about children, schools, and weather in Southern California. Meeting folks is one of the great joys of this job.
I head back to my car. Two cases resolved. Testimony given. Lunch eaten.
Using the time that would have been spent trying my case – I do something far better. I head to Toys R Us and pick up my son’s birthday present. It is a Big Wheel. Lil guy is going to be thrilled. He’s two.
I buy him this helmet.
I contact my wife, Allison. We decide to meet for an early family dinner. There is much laughter at dinner.
It is a full day. It is a heck of a day.
Ryan McKeen is A Connecticut Attorney.