1 A DAY IN THE LIFE: ALUMNI PERSPECTIVES A LAW STUDENT S GUIDE TO LEGAL AND NON-LEGAL CAREERS
3 WELCOME TO SOUTHWESTERN Dear Southwestern Student: As you take the first step in your legal career, we identify with your determination to practice law and take your place among the Southwestern alumni who have joined the profession over its remarkable 100-year history. We also recognize the amazing diversity within our profession, a discipline that provides us with a wealth of choices, which can be both exciting as well as somewhat intimidating. This book contains first-hand vignettes from a cross section of Southwestern graduates, illustrating some of our varied career paths and the day-to-day facets of each. We feel that these essays will give you an invaluable, personal glimpse into a number of career options providing insight into some you may not have previously considered or a better understanding of those you may have already contemplated. It is interesting to note that although this collection is titled A Day in the Life, the authors of most of these essays indicate that there really is no typical day in their specific field. Another recurring theme expressed by many is the importance of frequent personal communication with clients and colleagues and informal networking to expand opportunities for meeting new clients and colleagues. The Alumni Association wants to help you start to develop your networking skills as soon as you begin your studies at Southwestern. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the multitude of Student-Alumni Networking Receptions co-sponsored by the Alumni Affairs Office and various student groups on campus that will be offered throughout the year. Regardless of the career path you choose, we are confident that, as a future Southwestern alum, your contributions will further distinguish the law school and the profession. We hope that this publication will help whet your appetite for the amazing variety of opportunities available to you as a member of the Southwestern community. Sincerely, Donald G. Forgey '77, President Southwestern Alumni Association Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith
4 TABLE OF CONTENTS ATTORNEY GENERAL S OFFICE Timothy M. Weiner 00 3 Deputy Attorney General, Attorney General s Office, California Department of Justice BANKRUPTCY LITIGATION Hatty Yip 06 4 Bankruptcy Trial Attorney, Office of the United States Trustee, Department of Justice BUSINESS LITIGATION Alison N. Kleaver 07 5 Associate, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP CHILDREN S RIGHTS LITIGATION Jenny Rodriguez-Fee 08 6 Associate Attorney, Woodsmall Law Group CORPORATE PRACTICE: Joni Lee Gaudes 97 8 IN-HOUSE COUNSEL General Counsel, DENTIST CORPORATE PRACTICE: Alex M. Grigorians 04 9 LAW FIRM Associate, Buchalter Nemer Fields & Younger CRIMINAL DEFENSE Bill H. Seki Partner, Seki, Nishimura & Watase, LLP andassociate Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School DISTRICT ATTORNEY S OFFICE Greg Mohrman Deputy District Attorney, L.A. County District Attorney s Office ENTERTAINMENT Gary Silver Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, CBS Entertainment FAMILY LAW Dana Lowy Partner, Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Christian Dowell TRANSACTIONS & LITIGATION Associate, Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP JUDGE: DISTRICT COURT Hon. Otis D. Wright, II Judge, United States District Court for the Central District of California JUDICIAL CLERK: BANKRUPTCY COURT John-Patrick Fritz Judicial Law Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court JUDICIAL CLERK: DISTRICT COURT William N. Frank Judicial Clerk, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California JUDICIAL CLERK: SUPERIOR COURT LaShon Harris Judicial Law Clerk, Los Angeles Superior Court LAW SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION Gary J. Greener Associate Dean for Career Services, Southwestern Law School PUBLIC DEFENDER S OFFICE Rourke F. Stacy Deputy Public Defender, Los Angeles County Public Defender s Office PUBLIC INTEREST: CHILDREN S Ilia M. Lopez SERVICES ORGANIZATION Executive Director, Fostering Imagination PUBLIC INTEREST: LEGAL Ugochi L. Anaebere SERVICES ORGANIZATION Supervising Attorney, Voluntary Legal Services Program, Central California Legal Services, Inc. SMALL FIRM PRACTICE Brian D. Granville Founder and Managing Partner, The Granville Group, LLC TAX LITIGATION Vivian Bodey Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service Southwestern Law School
5 U ATTORNEY GENERAL S OFFICE Unlike many people starting law school, I knew before attending my first class that I wanted to be a criminal prosecutor. As a firstyear law student, I assumed that one day I would be hired as a Deputy District Attorney and prosecute felonies in the trial court. However, along the way, I took some advice and also applied for a position as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. It was great advice. The California Attorney General s Office represents the People of the State of California in civil and criminal matters before trial, appellate, and the supreme courts of California and the United States. As a Deputy Attorney General (or DAG, as we call ourselves) in the Criminal Division, I have the privilege of prosecuting cases at virtually every level and in every type of court. For example (and my case load is by no means unusual in this office), I am presently lead counsel and managing the following cases: a felony trial in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, multiple felony direct appeals in the California Court of Appeal, three automatic appeals of capital sentences in the California TIMOTHY M. WEINER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, ATTORNEY GENERAL S OFFICE, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Supreme Court, and several habeas corpus matters in the United States District Court. Yesterday, I appeared before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to argue in favor of upholding the conviction of a person who committed a particularly brutal murder. Last month, I filed an opposition to a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. I can t think of another office where an attorney with just over eight years of experience would be permitted to handle such diverse, important work as lead counsel. amazing benefit of working as a state 2000One prosecutor is the In California, as in most jurisdictions, every person who has been convicted of a felony has the right to have his or her conviction reviewed by an appellate court. Thus, a typical day as a state prosecutor involves a great deal of legal research and writing. For every appeal that is filed challenging a felony conviction, a state prosecutor is assigned to represent the People of the State of California. Prior to responding to a defendant s appeal, I typically spend a great deal of time reviewing the trial court record and conducting legal research. I routinely consult with my colleagues, who are some of the most dedicated, talented, and intelligent attorneys I have ever encountered. Whenever an appellate court reviews a conviction and issues an opinion, the court has the option of publishing the opinion, thereby giving the ruling precedential value in future cases. While it is always great to win a case, it is especially rewarding when the court publishes an opinion that incorporates your legal arguments and reasoning. 00 opportunity to help shape the law. Whenever an appellate court reviews a conviction and issues an opinion, the court has the option of publishing the opinion, thereby giving the ruling precedential value in future cases. While it is always great to win a case, it is especially rewarding when the court publishes an opinion that incorporates your legal arguments and reasoning. Virtually every DAG in my office has multiple published cases to his or her credit. If you are considering a career as a criminal prosecutor, there isn t an office anywhere that will present you with more opportunities than the California Department of Justice. This career path is one that allows you to challenge yourself with important and interesting work, provides you with a schedule that won t make you a stranger to your family or friends, and is incredibly rewarding. < 3
6 A After clerking for a federal bankruptcy judge for two years following graduation, I became a bankruptcy trial attorney with the Office of the United States Trustee, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice. The simplest way to describe what our agency does is to say that we monitor all bankruptcy cases filed to see if there is abuse of debtors, attorneys, or creditors. I decided to work for the government instead of a private firm after my clerkship because I wanted a lot of responsibility early on in my career and I wanted to learn different areas of bankruptcy. I know of many people who conduct document reviews daily and do not see a courtroom for many years. With the government, I have the opportunity to carry my own caseload and work on a case from investigating, discovery, motion writing, all the way to the argument in front of the court. I have also been sent to argue Chapter 11 cases. This is something that I would probably not have had the opportunity to do had I gone to a law firm. Also, at the Office of the U.S. Trustee, I am exposed to both consumer bankruptcy work and corporate bankruptcy work bankruptcy court and decided that I wanted Describing a typical day is very difficult because I have many different duties. I generally start out my day by checking and returning phone messages. What happens after that depends on what deadlines I have on the table. Some days, I spend the remainder drafting various motions, such as motions to dismiss cases our office feels are abusive. Other days, I review petitions and documents provided to our office to investigate if there is any type of fraud or abuse occurring. Often, I question debtors in a deposition-type meeting see if there are any undisclosed assets or income, or find out if the filing is in bad faith. Other times, I am in court arguing motions or attending status conferences. Because the economy is not doing well, our office has been very busy. There are many bankruptcy filings and cases to review. Being a government attorney, flexibility and teamwork are key. Lucky for me, this is right up my alley. Flexibility is important because the government has limited resources. I do not have a secretary to manage my calendar, remind me of deadlines, or answer my phone calls. Because I came directly from another government job, this does not bother me, and I ve learn to do almost everything myself. Teamwork is another key aspect; we often juggle each other s caseloads and cover for others when needed. BANKRUPTCY LITIGATION I first became interested in bankruptcy after I externed with a federal bankruptcy judge the summer after my first year in law school. Externing is a great opportunity to explore what areas of law you may become interested in. I enjoyed the variety of work I saw at the to become a judicial law clerk after graduating. During my second summer, I split my time between working at a private firm and externing for the Office of the U.S. Trustee. I enjoyed working for the government and HATTY YIP BANKRUPTCY TRIAL ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRUSTEE, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 06 saw the level of responsibility that was given to externs and to the attorneys. I entered the Office of the U.S. Trustee through the Attorney General s Honors Program. The Honors Program is the only way that the Department of Justice takes law school graduates or judicial law clerks. Most other Department of Justice positions require somewhere between five to ten years of experience. My advice to current law students is to take advantage of externship programs. Do research and see what types of agencies or firms offer summer or school year experiences. Externing is a great way to see what attorneys do and discovering what field you may want to go into. Also, externing for a judge is the best way to see what goes on in the courtroom, which is something most law students do not get to see. My second piece of advice is to prepare and build your resume. Once you find an area or field that you are interested in, seek out different opportunities in that field. One opportunity leads to another. Definitely try to venture out of the classroom and get some practical experiences. < With the government, I have the opportunity to carry my own caseload and work on a case from investigating, discovery, motion writing, all the way to the argument in front of the court. 4
7 I am an associate at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP ( Sheppard ), a full-service law firm comprised of over 500 attorneys in 11 offices internationally. Like Southwestern, Sheppard has its roots in Los Angeles, and it s an exciting place to be! I was fortunate enough to end up here through hard work, good grades, strong co- and extracurricular activities like Law Review, Moot Court and the Public Interest Law Committee, and the wonderful support of my fellow alumnus and now-colleague, Robert Philibosian, a former L.A. District Attorney. I m a member of the Business Trials Practice Group, where I handle civil litigation in its many forms, primarily defending mid- to large-sized companies in shareholder lawsuits, as well as lawsuits over insurance coverage and litigation over construction deals gone bad, by way of example. I am also a member of the firm s Hispanic-Latino Business Practice Team, which is a group that spans all offices and practice groups to serve the needs of Latino clients in the U.S. and U.S. clients in Mexico, Central America and South America. BUSINESS LITIGATION ALISON N. KLEAVER ASSOCIATE, SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON LLP I don t consider myself a morning person, but my day typically begins at 5:30 a.m. when I grudgingly roll out of bed for my workout. Depending on traffic, I make it into the office anywhere between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., when my workday begins. Some mornings, I may be asked to attend a Case Management Conference (CMC) where I update the court on the status of a case and ask the court to address any issues that may have come up. Once I return from court, I ll turn to my list of projects for the day. Often, it looks something like this: Call opposing counsel re: stipulation Draft meet and confer letter re: second set of special interrogatories Research ability to file 12(b)(6) motion as to all causes of action after removal from state court Review client docs and prepare for production Obtain signed verification from client and serve responses 2 p.m. conference call re: mediation 2007 Sheppard s semi-monthly Lawyers Lunches, Some days, I don t even get to this list until 5:00 p.m., when clients and partners start to head home, and the phone stops ringing. So, where does the time go? There s always a partner with a quick (and sometimes not-soquick) research project, a team that needs assistance drafting supporting documents for a motion being filed the next day, or an impromptu call with the client, just to name a few. Sometimes work can be frustrating, because we deal with complicated issues of law for which there is no easy answer, but the truth is that our clients don t come to us with questions that just any other lawyer could answer. Lunchtime offers a good chance for socializing and I often spend it at one of at a practice group meeting, with the Women Lawyers Group, with my mentoring group, or just out with other associates at the tasty sandwich place. The rest of my time is spent on various other matters. The firm actively encourages us to attend trials, hearings, and client meetings and charge the time to internal education. This means that I get to see the important 07 steps in the litigation process first-hand, which I may not otherwise get to see in my work on clients matters. I also often trade s, phone calls and have quick meetings over coffee to talk about details for our annual Women Lawyers event, which I m helping to plan along with another associate. During the summer months, I spend a lot of time getting to know our summer associates and talking with them about what it s like to work at Sheppard. My day at the office may end anywhere from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Some nights, I leave earlier to attend a Southwestern alumni event or to rehearse with the L.A. Lawyers Philharmonic (I m also a violinist). Other nights, I may be asked to attend a game at the Staples Center with one of our clients. Dinner or drinks with my law school friends is also a frequent occurrence. Then it s home to catch up on TiVo, finish up some work, and off to bed. My days are long, but I wouldn t change a thing about my life. Many people think that they ll only stay at a big firm for a few years to pay off those law school loans, and then get out for greener pastures. But that s not always so. I work with many partners who have spent their entire careers at Sheppard. They know the importance of mentoring and are actively involved in my professional development, making sure that I have the chance to take on increasing responsibility and gain experience in all aspects of the practice. Our cases tend to be pretty large, so I m not first-chairing trials yet, but even so, it s rewarding to be part of a team of great attorneys representing clients whose names and products I ve grown up with. Late nights and even weekends at the office aren t so bad when you work with good people on work that you truly enjoy. < 5
8 JENNY RODRIGUEZ-FEE A typical day for me lacks any sort of typicality, partly because of the type of law I practice, but also because I am a working mother. I have a little boy at home and this makes a typical day something quite rare. One day, I may be working from home, taking calls and drafting complaints all while entertaining an easily-distracted one year old. Another day, I may be in mediation for eight hours and arrive home just in time to give my son a kiss good night. And yet another day, I might bring my son to the office, turning office staff members into baby sitters while I interview perspective clients. However, with regard to the actual practice of special education law, specific trends present themselves on most days. In discussing these trends, I hope to encourage exploration and interest in this fascinating legal field. I am an associate attorney at a small private firm that practices predominantly in the area of special education law. Utilizing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Lanterman Act and relevant state law, my firm represents children with special needs who require individualized services from their CHILDREN S RIGHTS LITIGATION ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY, WOODSMALL LAW GROUP* school districts and/or regional centers. Families contact us when they believe their children are not receiving the support necessary to achieve both academic and daily living success. Representation can take the form of attendance at Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings (annual and triennial review meetings that include school district personnel, service providers, teachers and parents and collaboratively work towards development of a free and appropriate educational plan for a child); filing for due process (the administrative remedy when a family disagrees with a school district s educational offer); subsequent attendance at resolution sessions and mediations; hearing representation if previous attempts at settlement are unsuccessful; and appeals. In looking at the average day for an attorney in my field, I have identified several trends professional requirements that occur on a continuous basis and that help to comprise the practice of special education law. Trend 1: Client Interaction I would say the greatest portion of my work day involves interacting with clients. This can take the form of consultations, s, phone calls or participation in educational planning or settlement meetings. This practice area mandates effective client communication. While I personally find this aspect of the job among the most rewarding, it can also pose the greatest challenges. Currently, our firm maintains an active client list of approximately 120. This means that 120 families are rightfully expecting to hear from us on a consistent basis. Our ethical obligations require timely responses to questions, adequate preparation time for meetings and hearings and overall communicative follow-through. The challenge comes in effectively managing my time in order to meet these obligations and provide our clients with a sense of security that we as a firm are actively pursuing the implementation of an appropriate educational plan for their children. 08 Trend 2: Drafting, Revising and Filing Next in line to client communication is the drafting of due process complaints. Special education representation is often a two-tier process. The foundational tier is the IEP stage that is, directly working with a school district to formulate an appropriate educational plan for a child with special needs. The second tier is the due process stage due process occurs when there is a break down at the IEP stage. If the school district and parents cannot agree on a functional educational plan, we, as representatives of the family, draft and file a due process complaint against the school district. Because we are often hired after a family has already attempted the collaborative approach with a school district, many of my work days focus on the drafting of complaints for due process. In these complaints, we address violations of the law, apply necessary facts and request specific resolutions. The drafting of a due process complaint can take anywhere from 10 to 25 hours depending on the size and complexity of the case file. Trend 3: A Working Knowledge Beyond Applicable Law It is difficult to succeed as a special education attorney if one s knowledge is limited to applicable state and federal code sections and relevant case law. This is because special education law extends far beyond the actual law, reaching into areas relating to medical diagnoses; standardized assessment testing; academic curricula; personnel training and qualifications; therapy methodologies; the list goes on and on. Because so much information pertaining to a student s diagnosis, needs and educational plan initially stems from the opposing school district, without my own working knowledge of these areas, it would be difficult to effectively advocate. For example, if a school district offers an autism class to a student, I am not only required to know what therapeutic strategies are utilized in that classroom, but whether these strategies are likely to facilitate 6 *Since writing this essay, Ms. Rodriguez-Fee became the inaugural Clinical Fellow in Southwestern s Children s Rights Clinic, where she works closely with the clinic director, assisting in the representation of clients, the supervision of students and the development of course curricula.
9 For me, the most rewarding part of this job is the interaction with the children and families. I went to law school with the hope of affecting change for those in the greatest need of assistance. I now work for children who lack the voice to assert their needs and families who need assistance in navigating the special education process. the student s (my client s) academic and social progression. I can only obtain this information through my own independent research and through discussions with my own independent experts. To accept the school district s assurances on the appropriateness of placement or services for a client without conducting my own research would compromise my representation duties. Therefore, a significant portion of both work and personal time is spent researching in order to obtain an adequate working knowledge Trend 4: Parent Training and Advocacy Generally, a school district is responsible for providing support and services to a child from the age of three through the child s 22nd birthday. This creates a relationship between the family and the school district that can last for many years. Because of this, one of my roles as a special education attorney is to promote and encourage parent advocacy training parents to understand basic concepts in the law and advocate for their children, if possible. Still, professional support is often necessary. For example, I would not encourage a family to enter into due process system without legal representation. However, if at some point once settlement is reached, a hearing is over, or an IEP is signed I can step back, having taught my clients along the way about their child s educational rights, and families are able to achieve success based on their own advocacy, then I have achieved success far beyond winning at due process or on an appeal. For me, the most rewarding part of this job is the interaction with the children and families. I went to law school with the hope of affecting change for those in the greatest need of assistance. I now work for children who lack the voice to assert their needs and families who need assistance in navigating the special education process. As a mother, I am frustrated and angered by the lack of appropriate support for so many children. As an attorney, I am able to channel my emotions towards zealous and hopefully effective advocacy. With effective advocacy comes substantial reward; as the founder of my firm once said, When we achieve victories, children learn to read. < 7
10 M CORPORATE PRACTICE: IN-HOUSE COUNSEL My current position is General Counsel of DENTIST, a dental marketing company that matches patients with dentists. People who call our number or visit our website, get matched with a pre-screened dentist based on their location, dental need, and any insurance they may have. An operator takes their call, gets their information, and then directly connects them to one of our member dentists. insurance. Then, as an on-going process, we monitor consumer feedback, both positive and negative. The managers of these departments will consult with me as needed on assorted questions, from ERISA or employee relations to HIPAA and privacy matters. Throughout the day, I also attend meetings with other department s Vice Presidents on subjects relating to launching a new website (where privacy or consumer protection concerns might be involved) or implementing a new sales program (where contractual or advertising concerns may arise). Although most legal issues are handled in-house, I will also consult with outside counsel on corporate, intellectual property, general business, and employment matters. All of our litigation is handled by outside counsel My advice to individuals who are interested in DENTIST is located in Los Angeles, California, and employs approximately 225 employees. Of those employees, around 100 are employed as call center representatives. The rest of our company consists of several departments IT, Marketing, Media, Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Membership Development, Membership Services, and Inventory Management. I start off most mornings attending a morning huddle with the company s officers where we discuss the day s activities and priorities. I then send or respond to s, prepare or revise contracts on a wide variety of issues (ranging from marketing to corporate to releases of liability), or prepare cease and desist letters to companies who are infringing upon our registered trademarks. Since we do all of our own advertising, marketing and media buying, I also review all advertisements, commercials, and other marketing copy before aired or sent to the public. JONI LEE GAUDES GENERAL COUNSEL, DENTIST My path to this position was not in corporate law, as some may think. I began my career as a litigator, handling various types of civil matters and ultimately specializing in insurance bad faith and general business litigation. working in-house at a company like mine, where there is no compartmentalized legal department(s), is to take an assortment of elective classes in areas like Employment Discrimination, Entertainment, Trademark, Insurance and Trial Advocacy. That way, individuals can be exposed to many different areas of the law. 97 Externships are also a great way to get school credit while getting real work experience. The Externship Program has really developed since I participated in it. I now use the Externship Office myself, on the other side. Since my first extern started, it s been great to see the feedback and hands-on experience that the students are receiving. Suffice it to say, a typical day at work for me is fast-paced and anything but ordinary! Although there are no billable hours, I still work long hours, but I really enjoy working at the company, since it has a very collaborative, supportive and collegial environment. It is extremely rewarding too, as I have been able to expand my knowledge beyond the technical legal issues and learn how businesses are managed, improve my understanding of how risk and liability is balanced, and help with the company s decision-making process. < In addition to handling all the legal affairs of the company, the Human Resources (HR) and Quality Assurance (QA) departments report to me. Our HR department is responsible for all employee relations concerns, management training, benefits administration, and recruiting. Our QA department screens all potential dentists who wish to join our service to confirm that they have a valid dental license, are currently not on probation or suspension, and have adequate malpractice I have been able to expand my knowledge beyond the technical legal issues and learn how businesses are managed, improve my understanding of how risk and liability is balanced, and help with the company s decision-making process. 8
11 CORPORATE PRACTICE: LAW FIRM OOddly enough, a typical day in the life of a junior corporate associate practicing real estate, finance and corporate law at a large firm is nothing short of being, well, atypical. As the old adage (or cliché, rather) goes: no two days are alike! Beyond doubt, this has held true in my brief five years of practice. At times, the pace and workload of corporate practice can be intense and overwhelming. Each day presents a set of unique challenges and problems. Rest assured, however, that the fundamental skills that you will learn in law school, including the ability to methodically analyze and resolve complex legal issues and the ability to manage your time effectively, will prove invaluable in your success in the corporate arena. It may not be easy, but it is without a doubt incredibly rewarding. If you want my advice, I d start right now ALEX M. GRIGORIANS Before attending law school, I co-founded a successful internet business. Just before the internet bubble burst, we were in negotiations to sell the company to a much larger competitor. Of course, both sides hired corporate attorneys to assist throughout the ASSOCIATE, BUCHALTER NEMER FIELDS & YOUNGER* entire process and their advice was incredibly invaluable. I worked closely with the attorneys and found the practice to be fascinating. At the end of the process, I realized that corporate attorneys are basically businessminded professionals with a license to practice law and my course was set! Currently, my day-to-day practice includes transactional real estate, finance and corporate law. Each practice area is highly specialized, complex and involves deadlinedriven, high stakes transactions. Nearly every material (and often immaterial) deal point and issue is heavily negotiated by highly experienced and sophisticated counsel. Therefore, each transaction presents unique issues, laws and experiences especially for a young attorney like me transaction in Raleigh, North Carolina; or On a given day in the office, I may research rights of creditor in a multi-million commercial foreclosure action; draft an agreement to retain key corporate employees of a public manufacturing company; negotiate the purchase of a 50-story office high-rise in Downtown, Los Angeles; hold a 20-person conference call to discuss the structure of a federal or state tax credit revise a 200-page agreement for a warehousing loan facility. As you can see, the corporate practice field is extremely diverse. However, it also allows me to quickly learn about various fields of law and business all at once! Ultimately, the end-goal as a corporate attorney is to achieve a timely, consummate outcome to a matter, minimizing the potential risk and expenditures while maximizing the bottom dollar and the future upside for the client. To consummate or close a deal generally indicates that all necessary due diligence review was completed and all deal documents were negotiated, exchanged, executed and/or filed or recorded as 04 necessary. Often, it also means that the funds, often amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, have been wired to and received by a banking institution. However, the life of a corporate practitioner does not end upon leaving the office. Each week, there are dozens of worthwhile networking events throughout the Los Angeles area. In addition to my responsibilities within the office, I have various work-related obligations and commitments outside of the office. I often attend continuing legal education seminars and I try to connect with existing and potential clients to discuss pending matters and/or procure new business. Since each attorney will likely lose 20 percent of his or her business in any given year, client development is essential to my practice. There are also various networking events in the evenings and I even sometimes host my own networking events. In my view, while gaining valuable work experience is essential, professional networking events are almost equally as important for a young attorney. They provide an opportunity to get out of the office, meet with other legal professionals in the field, network with the business community and build one s contact base. In addition, many law firms sponsor their attorneys and staff in basketball or softball (even kickball) leagues for team building and physical exercise providing a good means to achieve the work-life balance for a young associate, such as myself. To reiterate, the analytical skills taught in law school provided me with the fundamentals necessary to excel as an attorney. The time management skills I developed helped me organize my atypical days, become a successful practitioner and achieve a healthy work/life balance even when the majority of my days are wholly unpredictable. The rest, I had to teach myself by reading the trade papers, teaching myself the market and taking an interest in real estate and finance. < *Since writing this essay, Mr. Grigorians moved to the firm Regent Partners, where he represents institutional investors, private equity funds and real estate REITS. 9
12 C Criminal defense attorneys think of ourselves as trial attorneys first and foremost. While we live for the challenge and excitement of being in trial, the typical day of a criminal defense attorney is one which challenges a person s time management skills. Mornings begin with the roadshow. It is not unusual for an attorney to make an appearance in more than one courtroom, and it is as likely that those courtrooms are in different courthouses. There are also times when the courthouses are in different counties. While you try to manage your schedule to alleviate time conflicts, more often than not, you don t have control over your schedule. If you are a busy and successful criminal defense attorney, clients will hire you with court dates already scheduled. Those dates may conflict with appearances you already have scheduled. I try to limit myself to no more than two appearances in the morning, and when possible I try to schedule cases in the same courthouse. CRIMINAL DEFENSE BILL H. SEKI PARTNER, SEKI, NISHIMURA & WATASE, LLP AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW, SOUTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL As you can imagine, each judge wants you in their courtroom first. Fortunately, most judges in criminal cases are understanding of the plight of criminal defense attorneys. But you have to make sure that you inform the courts if you are going to be late. It really pays to have great relationships with the court staff in the different court houses where you appear. Appearances in the morning range from arraignments where your client is first informed of the charges against him and, when you receive the initial discovery in the case, to motions or evidentiary hearings. Arraignments mark the beginning of the process in the courtroom. While it is an important part of the criminal justice process, it is probably the quickest appearance, taking five minutes or less in front of the court. On the other hand, motions or hearings, which require testimony, can take hours or days. 88 Mornings begin with the roadshow. It is not unusual for an attorney to make an appearance in more than one courtroom, and it is as likely that those courtrooms are in different courthouses. If I am in trial, I have to make my morning appearances and then be ready for trial by mid-morning. Most trial courts also have calendar matters in the morning miscellaneous matters like arraignments, pretrials, motions and pleas. After they complete the calendar, they begin trial for the second half of the morning and dedicate the entire afternoon for trial. This dedicates approximately three and a half hours to trial each day. I usually have to prepare for trial the prior evening, since I won t have time during the morning. If I am not in trial, I will head back to the office. On the way back to the office, I am returning and making phone calls, and scheduling 1988 appointments from my car. Once in the office, I continue my time on the phone and also meet with clients, review discovery, draft motions and prepare for the next trial. Usually my workday does not end at the office. In addition to my day job, I chair a non-profit and serve as a professor at Southwestern, where I am co-director of the Trial Advocacy Honors Program. Consequently, while most folks head home, I am either off to teach a class or headed into a meeting when I leave the office. I then can t wait to get home and spend time with my family and recharge for the next day. < 10
13 DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, L.A. COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY S OFFICE 2008 T DISTRICT ATTORNEY S OFFICE The Los Angeles County District Attorney s Office is the largest prosecutorial agency in the country with nearly 1,100 attorneys on staff. The office handles hundreds of thousands of misdemeanors each year, and tens of thousands of felonies. Our jurisdiction serves nearly 11 million residents (making it larger than 43 states) in a melting pot of cultural, social and political ingredients unlike anywhere else in the world. Being a Deputy District Attorney (DDA) is a high pressure, fast-paced, no frills job, and the frenetic energy starts on the first day. Being hired is very competitive, with nearly 900 applicants every year for approximately annual positions. Once hired, DDA s complete an intensive month-long training, and then begin in what is known as a Misdemeanor Calendar Assignment. Misdemeanors include possession of marijuana, small-quantity possession of narcotics, some vehicle code violations, drunk driving crimes, non-serious injurious domestic violence crimes, and nonserious assaultive crimes such as simple battery and assault. The new prosecutors are assigned to a misdemeanor courtroom located at any one of the possible 18 branch or area courtrooms that handle these cases. While some assignments involve two DDA s in the same courtroom, most usually just have one. These DDA s then process between misdemeanor cases each day, each in various stages of the criminal process. Some of the cases are arraignments (defendants entering pleas of guilty or not guilty ), pretrial dates (motions such as suppression of evidence or speedy trials, discovery compliance, or settlement conferences), jury trials, or postconviction matters. The judge takes the bench around 9:00 a.m., with most courts finishing up their daily calendar around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. But from the first come to order until the final recess, the prosecutor is in the room the entire time. The DDA s are expected to meet with defendants GREG MOHRMAN representing themselves (known as pro pers), possible victims and witnesses, private defense attorneys or public defenders, local law enforcement and court staff. Each judge is different, but every DDA is expected to have an answer whenever the court asks, People? A DDA will likely prosecute misdemeanor trials per year, depending on her or his assignment. Each of these trials are entirely managed by one DDA, working alone, who is responsible for prepping and examining witnesses, organizing evidence, litigation evidentiary motions, compiling jury instructions, conducting voir dire (jury selection), creating visual aides for the judge and jury, and developing and delivering opening statements and closing arguments. These trials proceed against a range of defense attorneys, from seasoned DUI attorneys with hundreds of trials under their belt to relatively new public defenders trying their first cases. Because of the pace of the criminal process, the vast majority of the prosecutor s courtroom work is oral. Prosecutors also spend significantly more time in court than their civil counterparts. DDA s must adroitly handle evidentiary rules and constitutional principles by thinking quickly and responsively to their fluid environment. Some brand new DDA s handle preliminary hearing assignments instead of misdemeanor calendar. All felonies require a preliminary hearing, where the government must show it has probable cause to take a case to trial. Preliminary hearings colloquially known as prelims are mini-trials that are presented to a judge instead of a jury. While some of the prelims end up being relatively simply in comparison to a jury trial, others can be very complicated and take several hours or even a few days to present. One of the more fascinating aspects of a prelim assignment is the more serious subject matter of a felony charge or charges. 08 Once DDA s become more experienced, most spend at least one rotation (usually around a year) in juvenile courts. All juvenile matters are handled by a judge there are no juries in juvenile court with some very challenging cases, both because of the ages of the individuals involved and because of the tragic nature of the crimes. Also waiting for more experienced DDA s are felony assignments, where felony trials are prosecuted. At this stage in their careers, some DDA s begin specialized prosecutions sex crimes, family violence, major narcotics, fraud, public integrity as well as many others types of crimes. The most experienced DDA s can work in the office s elite units, such as the Major Crimes Division, the Hardcore Gang Unit or Crimes Against Police Officers Section. Some DDA s at this stage of their career enter management and are assigned as Deputies-in-Charge or Head Deputies of the various units and divisions within the office. Other duties for the most experienced DDA s include felony calendar assignment and filing deputies (those who decide which cases to file for prosecution). Although I ve heard rumors about the lower pay one accepts as a public attorney such as a DDA, from speaking with my fellow recent graduates, the amount I earn seems to be competitive with most other first-year attorneys. Plus, there are no billable hours, no clients, no working on holidays, and most DDA s usually work from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at night. In the end the virtues of this job are not about money, though. I personally chose to become a DDA for three reasons: 1) the sense of being apart of something fundamentally noble; 2) the thrill of the work; and 3) the camaraderie with my co-workers. And I m happy to say those same three reasons are why I m continuing to be a DDA. < 11
14 I I started my legal career while at Southwestern as a summer intern at MGM/UA Television. At that time, I really had no concept of what a Business Affairs department did or what legal background would be beneficial (if any). For the benefit of those in the same position as I was back then, I offer the following. Business Affairs deals with all business aspects (as opposed to legal aspects) of production, distribution and licensing of programming and its ancillary exploitations. Business Affairs gathers information from creative, production, finance and legal affairs, and communicates and negotiates that information with the outside entertainment community. ENTERTAINMENT GARY SILVER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BUSINESS AFFAIRS, CBS ENTERTAINMENT 1990 next CSI or The Big Bang Theory. Once those potential projects are identified, it is the business affairs executive s job to negotiate with other business affairs executives, agents, managers and attorneys to secure the appropriate rights and/or talent within the company s parameters. In addition to talent negotiations, business issues come up in many different forms: legal will require review of their contracts for business issues, finance will require assistance in collecting receivables, production will request assistance in their daily operations, creative will question the affordability of their ideas, etc. It is this variety of responsibilities that make the business affairs position an interesting and challenging career. 90 background in contract, copyright, entertainment and labor law are helpful for both areas of practice and should be of paramount consideration when choosing a legal education. However, from my experience, the best avenue to explore if one wishes to be an in-house executive for an entertainment company is to pursue an externship while still in law school. This handson opportunity provides the practical experience and the contacts that will lead to a career, which, I believe, is exciting, challenging and ever-changing. < For example, the first step in the development process is finding the talent and the unique ideas that make up the foundation of a television show. CBS s creative executives search all areas of entertainment to find the Given the difference between the legal and business ends of the entertainment business, the law student needs to decide which area of interest best suits his or her skills in preparation for an in-house career. A Once potential projects are identified, it is the business affairs executive s job to negotiate with other business affairs executives, agents, managers and attorneys to secure the appropriate rights and/or talent within the company's parameters. 12
15 F Family law combines litigation and negotiation skills and requires a great deal of understanding and compassion. Rather than focusing on a client s business acumen and common sense, a family law attorney must necessarily focus on an individual s emotional state, thereby helping guide a client to restructure her or his life. constant challenges presented by our clients. Furthermore, and of utmost importance to me personally, I am never bored. Each case presents a unique set of facts, challenges and demands because every person is unique and copes with particular issues differently support the positions being argued before Our area of law comprises a full range of specific areas of expertise. These include drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; negotiating and/or litigating marital dissolution matters; paternity actions and child custody arrangements; handling surrogacy and adoption proceedings; and post judgment modifications, which include child custody and spousal and child support modifications. Family law requires a knowledge of tax, real estate, and business law. Most importantly, family law demands a sensitivity to the personal and emotional needs of each and every individual client during an extremely stressful and highly charged period during her or his life. Unlike other areas of the law, a family law attorney develops a strong, personal relationship with a client, as well as their children, friends and family, which often outlives the underlying family law issue at hand. As a practical matter, on a daily basis, I am on the phone all day long. Many of our clients call me numerous times a day. Clients going through a divorce or child custody battle are extremely needy. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to be available for them. The phone calls hinder my ability to prepare my written documents, which is why I often work crazy hours. I also write numerous letters each day to opposing counsel. Our policy is to document everything. When I am not on the phone, I draft numerous pleadings for the cases that we are litigating. This involves meeting deadlines and preparing declarations which set forth the facts of the case and Memoranda of Points and Authorities which provide legal authority to the court. FAMILY LAW DANA LOWY PARTNER, MEYER, OLSON, LOWY & MEYERS I am fortunate to spend substantial time in court. Unlike other civil matters, there are no juries in family law trials. I also prepare for and attend depositions, and family law requires a great deal of discovery requests. 92 In addition to the foregoing, I attend a number of bar activities and family law seminars. This allows me the opportunity to continue my education in the field and keep abreast of new case law and legal developments. Also, the family law bar is a small universe. We are in front of the same judges frequently and often have cases with the same opposing counsel. By attending these events, I have become acquainted with other practitioners in this area of law and become involved and active in bar activities. The practice of family law requires a great deal of time, patience and effort. However, it is an extremely rewarding practice, and I feel a great deal of personal satisfaction when I am able to resolve issues to clients satisfaction and help them to feel better about their new lives. < My three years at Southwestern helped prepare me for the challenging, stressful, and extremely rewarding experiences I face as a family law practitioner. Southwestern also provided the structure and environment to ensure my growth as an attorney. I learned to work and study hard as a law student, and this work ethic has inspired me to strive for excellence in my profession. Each case presents a unique set of facts, challenges and demands because every person is unique and copes with particular issues differently. As a family law practitioner, I am a partner in a boutique firm with a busy, demanding practice. I work long hours, occasionally arriving at the office at 5:30 a.m. and working late into the evening. I also work many weekends. Despite the long hours, I enjoy the 13
16 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS & LITIGATION SSummarizing my day into a one page document is a very daunting task. I feel that way not because my days are so full that it is difficult to quantify them, but because each day can be so very different from the next. In the hopes of giving you a good idea of what it is that I do on a regular basis, I ll do my best to relay a sampling of my practice. I am an intellectual property and commercial litigation attorney an associate at Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP, a boutique firm in Beverly Hills, California, where we focus our practice on intellectual property transactional work and related litigation. The majority of my clients are large media entities, including online service and content providers, as well as movie studios and production companies. I also work with celebrities and entertainers who are well known brands themselves, and in need of the same type of intellectual property advice and enforcement. My goal at the firm is to protect the valuable intellectual property rights of these entities and individuals. Often times, a brand is a CHRISTIAN DOWELL ASSOCIATE, KEATS MCFARLAND & WILSON LLP* company s most important asset it is what sets them apart from the competition and distinguishes their products and services. In order to protect this valuable asset, much of my day is spent researching, drafting and analyzing trademark applications. On any given day, I will receive a request from a client proposing a word, logo, or design that they would like to use as a trademark. I often commit many hours of research and analysis to determine if the proposed word or logo can feasibly be protected as a trademark. I research the competitive marketplace and analyze third party surveys to determine whether the proposed mark will infringe on any other s existing rights. I then draft a memorandum explaining the risks and benefits of going forward with the proposed trademark example. Those briefs can take anywhere from The initial research and filing of the trademark application is only the beginning though. Once the application is filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the U.S. examining attorneys typically issue office actions requiring me to respond to initial refusals. The office action responses I must prepare are legal briefs that can be short and deal with simple procedural questions, or consist of a very detailed legal analysis arguing against a refusal based on a likelihood of confusion with an existing trademark, for a couple of hours to a couple of days to draft, revise, and file with the USPTO. If the examining attorney does not accept and agree with my analysis, sometimes the client will request that I file an appeal and with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. 05 Because the field of intellectual property law is so broad, I regularly address questions in numerous areas of law, from privacy rights to fraud and misrepresentation. Although the prosecution of trademark applications is an important part of my practice, the bulk of my day is spent on litigation tasks. I am regularly called upon by my clients to file trademark and copyright infringement claims in federal district court, and a good percentage of the intellectual property litigation cases I handle are also in the defensive context. In addition, approximately half of the litigation matters I typically handle are before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), the administrative court of the USPTO. The TTAB handles disputes between trademark owners and its jurisdictional powers allow the board to refuse and cancel trademark applications and registrations. Intellectual property litigation matters are very much like any other district court matter. In addition to filing the initial complaints and answers, I typically draft motions for summary judgment, motions to dismiss, and motions addressing discovery disputes. And again, as with most commercial litigation matters, the disputes tend to settle or come to resolution prior to trial. Throughout my day, I regularly deal with what I consider to be the most important part of my job phone calls from clients, which includes both general questions and requests for advice. Because the field of intellectual property law is so broad, I regularly address questions in numerous areas of law, from privacy rights to fraud and misrepresentation. Practicing law is a business like any other, and addressing your clients needs is the key to any successful business. < 14 *Since writing this essay, Mr. Dowell became Legal Director, Intellectual Property, of Yahoo! s in-house legal team, handling global brand protection for the company.
17 T The typical week begins with the criminal calendar on Monday morning. Because the court operates on a seniority basis, the more senior judges are permitted to begin their morning calendars first. Being the second most junior district judge, my first hearing does not begin until 10:00 a.m. Beginning that late in the morning, we prefer to have a relatively short calendar, otherwise we will spill over into the lunch hour. As a rule, our criminal calendar consists of final pre-trial conferences, revocation hearings, sentencings and/or changes of plea. Each of these hearings takes, on average, 30 minutes. Monday afternoons are devoted to civil law and motion matters. As a rule we try not to have multiple long-cause matters in one afternoon. Motions for summary judgment and Markman, or claims construction hearings in patent cases, generally take the most time, so we ll have one or the other, but not both on the same day. When all civil cases are consigned to a single afternoon per week, JUDGE: DISTRICT COURT HON. OTIS D. WRIGHT, II JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA it is necessary that we ration the available time carefully. For example, routine and unopposed matters are usually decided on the papers without the need for a hearing. Many of our diversity jurisdiction cases involve out of town attorneys. In order to accommodate those attorneys, we will frequently hold telephonic conferences and hearings. Obviously, in order to prepare for the law and motion matters, a great deal of preparation is necessary. This is where the assistance of our very capable law clerks is vital. Each active judge has, on average, 350 civil cases and a third as many criminal cases, plus an assortment of miscellaneous matters, such as petitions for writ of habeas corpus. Each active district judge is allocated three permanent chambers staff. Some judges have opted for a judicial assistant or secretary and two law clerks. Others, such as myself, have three law clerks. Without our law clerks, the backlog of cases awaiting trial or other disposition would be staggering. Prior to each hearing, a tentative disposition has been prepared for each case. Occasionally, I will share that tentative decision with the attorneys prior to oral argument. This enables the attorneys to tailor their arguments to the issues on which the court s tentative decision turns. I have found that during the course of oral argument, some counsel view questions from the bench as either a nuisance to be tolerated and avoided or trick questions to which carefully phrased non-answers are offered. Anything other than a direct and complete answer is not helpful. However, when an attorney has the benefit of a written tentative decision and can see the court s thought process, the purpose of those seemingly irrelevant or trick questions becomes clear. This tends to yield a more productive hearing. Tuesday through Friday are reserved for trials. On Tuesday, all we can generally expect to accomplish is the selection of the jury, 80 opening statements of counsel, and with luck, the partial testimony of a single witness. In civil cases, more often than not, I will conduct the entire voir dire. It should come as no surprise that many attorneys use jury selection as an opportunity to pre-instruct the jury as well as pre-condition them to a more favorable view of their case. This tends to prolong the selection process, which should be limited merely to ascertaining whether an individual can be fair and open-minded. When I am convinced by the attorneys pretrial submissions that they are not likely to misuse the process, I will permit them to select their own jury. On Tuesday, we begin the day at 9:00 a.m., with one mid-morning break for the benefit of our court reporter, then a break for lunch at noon. Once the jury has been excused from the courtroom, any logistical or housekeeping matters, such as witness scheduling or evidentiary issues the attorneys anticipate, are dealt with. I will rarely go to lunch while we are in trial. During the hour and a half we have for lunch, I will use that time to catch up on other matters or to finalize the preliminary instructions I will give the jury. Maybe a brief mention of this practice might be instructive. I attended a seminar not too long ago in which we watched a video clip of a professor orienting a group of students on the first day of class. The professor cautioned the class that the nature of the class would not be revealed to them until the final exam. He also told them that they would be lectured by a number of visiting professors, some of whom would provide factually accurate information and others would provide information which contradicted another professor. It would be up to them to determine which professor to believe for purposes of the final exam. They would not know what they were to be tested on consequently note taking would be difficult. In addition, the facts they would hear during the course of the lectures would have OTIS D. WRIGHT continued on page 18 15
18 OTIS D. WRIGHT continued from page 17 to be applied according to a confusing and complicated set of instructions, which would be read to them immediately before the exam. Therefore, prior to taking the exam, they would have to try to remember the facts once they determined which professor s version to believe and then plug those facts into the complicated set of instructions. Lastly, they would all have to arrive at the same answer on the test. When placed in this context it is easy to see the problems inherent in the way we traditionally present cases to juries. I have come to believe that the more information we give to the jury before the presentation of evidence, the better chance we have of obtaining a well-reasoned decision. For this reason, I have adopted the practice of instructing the jury twice: before the first witness testifies and again at the end. Because the vast majority of cases settle, sometimes on the day of trial, we generally schedule approximately three cases for trial on any given Tuesday. Recently, we had two cases ready to go to trial on the same day. One was a jury trial and one a court trial. Rather than have one trail the other, I elected to try them both at the same time. We began the jury trial at 8 a.m. and went straight through until around 1 p.m., with an occasional break or two. At 1:30 p.m., we started the court trial and went until 5 or 5:30 p.m. Yes, the court trial had fewer trial hours per day, but in a court trial, the presentation of evidence is generally more streamlined than in a jury trial, therefore fewer trial hours are actually necessary. We proceeded each day under this format, apparently to all parties satisfaction. It also avoided the creation of the bottlenecks, which result from pushing trials back into an already overcrowded docket. In addition, beginning a trial as scheduled avoids the disruption in the availability of both expert and lay witnesses who had been told to block out certain dates on their calendar so as to be available for trial. As noted earlier, I am assisted by three law clerks and as many as five judicial externs students who work at the court for a semester assisting the law clerks with research and minor law and motion matters. While the externs provide a valuable service, primarily we try to make this a learning experience for them in the practical aspects of litigation. One I began with the comment that our typical week starts on Monday morning, but that really isn t the case. What happens on the bench is just the visible part of a judge s workday. As one would expect, there is a lot of paper to review as well as discussions of the issues among the chambers staff. of the first things that become apparent to the externs, with no prompting from me or the law clerks, is the importance of being able to write clearly and succinctly. It takes far more time, effort and thought to distill a thirty page memorandum into 10 pages, but a 10-page memorandum will be given several careful reads. Not so with a more lengthy memorandum. Many lawyers are of the view that the size of the motion papers should be in direct proportion to the importance of the case or the amount of money at risk. It is not uncommon for a motion for summary judgment to be shipped to us in five bankers boxes, with literally hundreds of so-called undisputed material facts. It should be selfevident that the fewer number of alleged undisputed material facts, the greater the likelihood that those facts will in fact be undisputed and therefore the greater the likelihood that the party will prevail. The more facts one suggests, the greater chance that there will be a bona fide dispute supported by conflicting evidence. I am often surprised to hear a moving party, when confronted with contrary evidence on a fact which that party said was undisputed, take the position that the fact really isn t material and the conflicting evidence should be ignored. My view is if you listed it as material, then it is material. If the party opposing the motion supports his opposition with admissible evidence, you lose. The externs are encouraged to come into the courtroom for arguments on law and motions matters particularly if they worked on the case. It gives them a greater appreciation for the impact oral argument has on the decision making process. In discussing the cases prior to the hearing, we may agree that we require further clarification of the facts or the application of what appears to be controlling precedent. Consequently, they are listening carefully to the responses to questions from the bench on these points. Any student of moot court knows the importance of directly addressing questions from the bench. Evasion is not helpful. The greater sin however is to mis-state the facts or the law. In my personal view, an intentional misrepresentation to the court is fatal. Once a lawyer has lost credibility with the court, that lawyer can no longer be an effective advocate. As I have repeatedly advised my clerks and externs in a close case, the advocacy of a good lawyer can be outcome determinative. Following oral argument, we all meet in chambers to discuss not only the performance of the attorneys but how that performance has shaped the debate. The externs see first-hand what approaches work and which do not. Equally instructive are the trials. The externs, all too infrequently I fear, have the opportunity to observe excellent trial skills. More often though, they witness just the opposite, but lessons can be learned from those attorneys as well. Hopefully they will take these lessons with them. The biggest lessons come from watching the art of crossexamination. Frequently we have been treated with a skillful and devastating crossexamination that leaves the entire courtroom with the feeling that, under no circumstances, can the witness be rehabilitated. This is where the real lesson comes in. Know when to stop and just sit down. When a lawyer s own witness has been destroyed on the witness stand, if given enough time, that lawyer will 16
19 figure out a way to rehabilitate that witness. The secret is to deny that lawyer time to think. You accomplish this by simply sitting down. However, what we witness time and time again is a reluctance to surrender the stage. The longer the lawyer remains on his feet, basking in the glow of his scorching and seemingly decisive examination, the longer opposing counsel has to figure out a way to save his case. And given enough time, a good trial lawyer will figure a way. Everyone knows the rules of cross-examination: (1) Have a purpose, or don t do it. (2) Don t ask a question you do not already know the answer to. (3) Once you ve accomplished your purpose, sit down. Easier said than done. One parting comment: About ten years ago, I attended a workshop on handling appeals in federal court. I recall one of the circuit judges talk about the importance of being brief in the appeal papers. She spoke about how a great deal of a judge s work is done away from court. On Friday evening, she would stuff as many briefs into her brief case as it would carry. Voluminous submissions naturally get left behind. She would then read the briefs while waiting for her child at a soccer game or piano practice. It is a fact that we do carry these papers with us in the evenings and on the weekends to read whenever we have a few moments without distraction. If an attorney wants his or her papers crammed into that brief case, then be brief. Otherwise, it languishes in chambers. If you wonder why some matters remain under submission for a protracted period of time, the answer may lie in assessing how much material the court must review. If an attorney submits five bankers boxes of material, that attorney is communicating to the court that all that material must be reviewed. That review will take time. All too often, I feel, the volume of material submitted to the court is more calculated to impressing the client when only a small fraction is relevant to the court s 1980 purposes. It will benefit all concerned when I began with the comment that our typical week starts on Monday morning, but that really isn t the case. What happens on the bench is just the visible part of a judge s workday. As one would expect, there is a lot of paper to review as well as discussions of the issues among the chambers staff. Having overcome an initial reluctance to do so, my law clerks are now comfortable challenging my views and advocating for what they believe to be the correct outcome. Importantly, these discussions are open to all of the law clerks, regardless of whether the case is assigned to them or not. This creates a certain institutional knowledge and memory bank. We have had situations where we came to one conclusion in one case, then several months later, encounter a similar situation where on further analysis, we decide that a different conclusion is warranted. We are not averse to revisiting the earlier decision. I am more concerned about reaching a right result than being viewed as indecisive. lawyers dissuade their clients of the notion that volume alone will carry the day or is an indication of the merits of the arguments advanced. More likely than not, that volume is a visual justification for an inflated invoice. We on the bench can only continue to hope that one day our pleas for short, concise, wellwritten arguments will be heeded. Yes, size matters. < 17
20 TThe term law clerk is used throughout the legal community with varying meanings, but in the federal court system, a judicial law clerk is often a full-fledged attorney working as a legal advisor to a judge. Most clerkships are set for a term of one or two years. The two best things about a judicial clerkship are the education and the experience. You work in a small, collegial atmosphere under the watchful guidance of a judge and alongside another law clerk. I am eighteen months into a two-year clerkship for a United States Bankruptcy Court Judge, I am always learning something new, and there is always more to learn. JUDICIAL CLERK: BANKRUPTCY COURT JOHN-PATRICK FRITZ JUDICIAL LAW CLERK, UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT* 06 In the morning I sit in on hearings, trials and oral argument because it is a tremendous opportunity to observe and learn about courtroom demeanor and styles of argument. In watching countless attorneys and getting the judge s full critique afterwards in chambers, you soon learn what makes an effective advocate in court. Typically, I arrive to chambers about an hour before the morning hearings to check for last minute pleadings and to discuss any questions the judge may have. Usually, I have researched and analyzed the issues days in advance, the judge has read and considered them, and we have had some discussion. In the morning I sit in on hearings, trials and oral argument because it is a tremendous opportunity to observe and learn about courtroom demeanor and styles of argument. In watching countless attorneys and getting the judge s full critique afterwards in chambers, 2006 you soon learn what makes an effective advocate in court. Hearings are often finished by noon, and I spend the rest of the day preparing for next week s hearings by researching the legal issues, analyzing the parties positions, and writing advisory memos to the judge. This is a great opportunity to learn substantive law in detail. I take as much time as I need to research without worrying about billable hours, and I learn about different approaches used by different circuits, the reasoning behind the law, and how it applies in different situations. This also offers the chance to compare writing styles of different law firms, learn what is most effective, then practice it in writing advisory memos to the judge. Occasionally, emergencies in corporate cases arise and everything is done on a truncated schedule with long hours of research, writing, and debate on one or two days of notice. Despite the late nights, early mornings, and weekends of work leading up to these emergency hearings, this is one of the best parts of the job. At times like these, the judge, my co-clerk, and I eat our meals together in chambers and discuss the case, the law, and the policies at issue for the upcoming hearing. From these discussions, you not only learn about the law, you learn about the decisionmaking process behind the scenes the questions and concerns a judge has, what she considers important, and how she analyzes the issues. A typical day for me might end at 5:00 p.m., but often I will be in chambers until 7:00 p.m. or later. My two-year term began in August 2007, just as the word sub-prime came into our vocabularies. Since then, each week has been busier than the last. Working late nights and weekends are getting to be the norm, but I still enjoy it because the education, training, and experience only improve with the increasing size of the workload. < 18 *Since writing this essay, Mr. Fritz completed his two-year clerkship and is now an Associate with the law firm of Levene Neale Bender Rankin & Brill, LLP, specializing in Bankruptcy Law.