Roger writing the LAWmag

The Drama Of Life, aka Your Local Courthouse

briefcaseThis common law Courthouse could be anywhere in the free and democratic world, from Sydney to Seattle.
 
The cold December 2008 Northern Hemisphere air outside nips but inside, the emotional temperature is hardly warmer.
 
Floor upon floor of concrete courthouse wakes up reluctantly on this bleak Monday morning. It seems right out of a Dickens novel, give or take a few changes on points of temporal detail.
 
As the clock inches toward 10 am and the opening of the courtrooms, a tall, young crew-cut red-haired lawyer still has his dark blue trench coat on. He's sitting, hunched over a yellow legal note pad. On the table in front of him is the de rigeur big black briefcase.
 
Over him glares a portrait of the former provincial chief justice, the Honourable Nathan Nemetz and under the dead judge's picture, an array of fake green shrubs lit by two piercing halogen bulbs which hang from the ceiling. Nearby hover two women, friends it would appear from their body language.
 
Two other gentlemen stand off together to the side, one a lawyer and the other his client - both within sight of Nemetz's glare.
 
One has a briefcase and the other carries a file folder.
 
The latter must be a client as lawyers do not attend Courthouse with sheets sticking out of an open file folder from which, in a moment of inattention, an essential document could slip.
 
The quiet is rudely interrupted by the loud voice of the red head lawyer:

"Hi Matt. I heard you called. To make this all work Matt you're going to have to come up with a deposit today ... what?"

"Ok. Well, how much is a little bit more because they need $125. Your offer is two point eight."
 
"Consider it a non-offer."ear
 
"That's just not going to work."
 
"Was there a second offer? I heard there was a second offer."
 
"Does the company have financing? Do you have something you can show them?"
 
"So no money until Monday and only a little bit more than fifty grand...."
 
"Appreciate here Matt is that part of the problem is that they don't believe anything you say."
 
"Alright. Alright. I'll see what I can do."

So much for client-solicitor confidentiality.

And with that, he flips his cellphone shut, packs some documents into his briefcase and approaches a nearby posse of five well-dressed men, one sipping coffee, the other four all with their hands in their pockets.

One of the group, the one with a wheel-briefcase, steps away and greets him - but no handshake. They mumble something and then move together back into the group.
 
The red haired lawyer says something; his shoulders sag and his coat is still on - no sign of confidence.
 
Must be a young lawyer.
 
Body language is essential in this game.
 
When presenting an offer in person, too little confidence is like having see-through cards in a poker game.
 
Too much can have the same effect.
 
It's an art - not a science, but the art isn't that difficult.

The red head lawyer mumbles something I can't hear and three of the group break out in a pack, all with noticeable smirks; all with hands firmly entrenched in their pockets.

This is not lost on the red haired lawyer, who then gestures one final time with his left hand and then leaves the group. As he leaves, the group closes rank behind him and then their hands come out of their pockets and start gesticulating as they talk to each other.

Law CourtsRedhead enters courtroom #32.
 
Soon the drama will play out before a balding, 50-something Mr. Justice Barber.
 
Litigants and lawyers - some 22 of them - sit here and there in "#32" waiting for their case to be called.
 
The red head takes a seat to the right , about halfway to the bench, while the posse's lawyer heads to the front, to the left, while two of his clients head in while the other two, hover outside, looking around with steel gazes.
 
Thousands of lawyers and litigants repeat this dance every day as the Courts of Solomon dispense justice as fairly as they can. For the judge, he or she must refresh their minds before every case of the thirty they usually hear in one day. Luckily, many of the cases are spoken to quickly, as they go by consent.
 
Eventually, all of us end up in this dramatic setting. For some, their role is as part of a school group; or as a witness; other as jurors. Still others come on stage as couriers or employees.
 
But the main characters are those who earn their living by playing the game (lawyers), and those who have to play the game (litigants).
 
For them, these halls come to represent that swift, cold and sharp edge of the guillotine of law, justice and fairness.
 
Sometimes the memory of the halls of justice are bitter and sometimes they are sweet - but they are always life-changing or, unfortunately, life-defining.
 
At some time today, most likely in the afternoon given the heavy list, the mysterious Matt - indiscreet lawyer notwithstanding - will discover which side of the scales of justice has tipped for him and after him as before him, the run of this never-ending musical enters another year.

Posted in Legal Profession and Lawyers, Litigation
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