Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The life of a family trial lawyer is not all glitz and glam, high stakes drama in the courtroom and high impact negotiations over latte's.  Sometimes we family trial lawyers have to do paperwork.

And I'm not talking about brief writing paperwork.  That can be gruelling and thrilling all at the same time.  Making a written Motion, preparing a brief, researching the law can captivate your mind like little else.  Your thoughts can narrowly focus as you craft your argument.  The turn of a phrase, the exact case to make your decisive point can be exhillarating and keep you on the tip of your toes and edge of your seat.  Your brief can feel like a work of fine art, to be appreciated by the known world, much like that kid in Christmas Story imagines his Red Rider theme will be appreciated by his teacher.

No, I'm not talking about anything so laudable.  I'm talking about paperwork like catching up on reviewing discovery responses and writing letters in response to other letters and pouring over contracts for vendor services.  All the stuff that you could appreciate as a needed respite in a quiet office, but after the fast pace of trial life, seems more like watching paint dry.

And that was my job today.

It's necessary work.  The pillars of litigation must be placed before the contest of court begins.  And it's productive work.  As you know from reading this blog, more often than not cases do not go to trial, they get settled.  I had one opposing counsel call me today to thank me for the very professional tone of my letter and trusted that it would prove a turning point in working toward a resolution for a divorcing family.  Of course, she then asked for a continuance from the rapidly approaching trial.

The time spent in the office while working on such paperwork helps me reacquaint with the staff and touch all the matters that are not so close to resolution as to require my hours before a Judge.  This time spent in the office allows me to remember how much I enjoy Amy's coffee and the camraderie of the paralegals and support staff.  It allows me to admire the way the paralegals manage all of the matters, the clients with their day to day needs and opposing counsels who cannot gain my immediate attention because I'm off arguing something in court.

So, the paperwork can be drudgery, but it can also be a breather.  A breather with a lot of coffee thrown in for good measure.

And tomorrow?  High stakes mediation.

Michael Manely

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