How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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Two words: voice recorder.

Or are those verboten in law firms? The practical IT guy/1L in me says simply, record the damn conversation. I have one on my desk ready to go for those "critical" meetings.

David Giacalone

I lucked out in my law firm days -- I worked with (1) a partner who stuttered; (2) another partner who was waaay too busy to even hold a conversation; and (3) a semi-retired partner who was always on safari somewhere in the pre-internet, pre-cellphone era.

I bet counsel in the White House are happy to have a President who never talks too fast. E-nun-c-i-a-shun beats ad-vice and pol-a-see anyday.

Dave!, I don't think the fast-talkin' partner would want to be recorded. Deniability.


I spent many years working for a partner who talked at a reasonable rate of speed, but after I wrote the letter and he reviewed it, he would say, "that's not what I wanted." When I would respond that he told me to be sure to include whatever he said he didn't want, he would answer, "well, if I said that at the time, I didn't mean it." BOING!!! No more of that for me. Ahhh ... leaving private practice is a blessing. Two months out after ten years, and I feel almost human again; or as human as a lawyer can ever hope to feel.

Ms. Secretary

Assuming the associate has never worked on the file until now, and assuming he doesn't have a secretary to dump the little project on... Quick, grab the Smithkin file. Do a quick eyeball of the last three of four pleadings, and the last five or six letters and memoranda. Don't sit there and study every pleading, letter, note, and transcript. That's a luxury you can't afford -- it's lunchtime! Then, do a quick computer search of the firm's documents regarding expert disclosure. (As a young associate, you've already discovered the down and dirty way into the firm's massive catalog of every document from every case. Let's hope, anyway.) Within those results look for anything that discusses deadlines. At this point, if the associate is on the ball, he'll probably notice that in addition to deadlines, other parameters within the realm of experts are addressed. This might even jar a few memories from fast-talking-partner's recent directive. Quick, slap some of that language into a letter conformed to fit the Smithkin case; address it to Mr. Aspin; double space it; print it out; mark it "draft;" and quickly barrel your way back down to Mr. Partner's office. Don't worry about the work being wrong. Even if it's right, it'll probably be wrong. Just get in and out. Learn. And go forth in confidence.

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