Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learn Something New Every Day

This has been a week of revelations, and it's only half-way over.

For the first time, I have been building a case from scratch, with the mere supervision and guidance of my attorney. Usually, he will hand me a file, or a stack of papers he needs me to create a file for, and tell me exactly what he wants. He will usually tell me how he wants a suit drafted, which causes of action to use, and the format he desires. I will have all the information I need in my hands as I begin my task.

Last week, however, he handed me a few notes and said, "Find out what kind of suit we need to file on this and what we need to file it." He gave me a very general topic, one which he himself is not all too familiar, and then released me into the wild, threw me into the water without a life jacket, per say.

So I worked, I found ten causes of action to bring in this case, I crafted a beautiful complaint out of basically scratch. It took me a full day. When he looked over it, he found it to be nearly perfect. After adding a few details and peppering it with legalese, he declared it ready to review with the client.

On Monday I arrived at the office as chipper as ever. I despise weekends without a goal, and this last one was empty. I love my job, and an empty weekend doesn't even give me a good reason to be out of the office. So in I skipped, happy and excited. The Boss had left me a message from the weekend. "Mel, find out if we need to file a complaint with an administrative agency before filing suit in this matter."

I researched, and to be quite honest, I'm still unsure as to whether we have to file something with an administrative agency before filing suit in a county court. Lesson #1 learned. Kind of. Perhaps Lesson #1 is more a cautionary tale about learning ev-er-y-thing before doing a-ny-thing. I know this is an impossible task, and that is why, dear reader, you are destined to screw up. A lot.

Lesson #2 came when the Boss tells me that he just learned one of my carefully crafted causes of action is not recognized in state court. Pause for dramatic effect. I had researched and read and read and researched, how could I have missed such an obvious error? The answer is simple, really. Until this week, I had no clue which causes of action were NOT recognized in my state's courts. I imagined that if something gave rise to a cause for compensation, as long as you worded it carefully, or squeezed it into one of several short phrases the law reserves for this purpose, you could file suit for it anywhere that had proper jurisdiction. I was wrong.

By Lesson #3 I was worn out. How many times can someone as obviously brilliant and careful as me be wrong three times on one case? This time I found that my state does not recognize negligent infliction of emotional distress. Make that eight causes of action.

Lesson #4: Intentional infliction of emotional distress and the tort of outrage are basically the exact same thing. Make that seven causes of action.

I have to remind myself that if I'm not making mistakes, I'm not learning. I also have to remind myself that my Boss has three years of law school and four years of law practice behind him and sometimes I have to return letters he has typed with red ink all over them.

Lesson #5, then, is that none of us are perfect and making mistakes is how we make progress. Also, I'm a better grammarian than my attorney.

No comments:

Post a Comment