No longer a virgin, a rookie (ok I'm still a rookie), no longer a wannabe. I have finally finally finally after 8 years of waiting (sick isn't it?!) gotten on my feet and done it.
You want to know if I won, don't you? Or if I lost? Guess what. I didn't do either. Nope they weren't a "hung jury" either - we settled before they got to make a decision.
Settled! SETTLED! Crap crap crap. OK not really crap because it was good for the client to put the legal garbage behind them and get back to work and get back to making money. But let me tell you, if I could have just put on my "star witness" - the Executive VP of the 135 year old company who started in the shipping department 35 years ago and worked his way up to EVP? Yeah, he was totally awesome. Smart yet simple. Crafty yet straight shooting. Honest to a fault. The Perfect Witness. But alas, he had work to do and money to make. So he made the smart business decision and settled.
I'd like to think my killer opening with my ginormous flip-charts with the "disappearing trade dress" and my 4 hour killer-cross-examination had something to do with the parties settling. In reality, it was all about math.
Along the way there were surprises of course
- the night the partner and I were sitting in the "war room" at 1 a.m. for the 5th night in a row and, instead of arguing with each other, we were both calmly tapping away at our computer working on the outlines for the next day, having drilled the clients for info for 6 hours and sent them home, we occasionally tossed out an idea at the other person, who would catch it and run with it, declaring it "perfect." No hype, no craziness, just a Zen-like "in the zone" moment;
- working on a line of questioning for 2 hours, wondering how to lead the other side to walk through this "technical" stuff on cross and then showing up to court, only to have the other side walk everyone through it on direct without having to ask a single question, setting me up perfectly for my cross and the Client leans over and says, "PERFECT";
- running to the office at 730 a.m. on day 2, having solved a mystery of "timing" - where you know the opposing guy was lying on direct but how to absolutely prove it? You wake up and it comes to you and you run through the streets of chitown in 7 degrees in your killer new Via Spiga's with your coat 1/2 closed, too excited to realize you should be freezing;
- basking in the glow of being totally spoiled by local counsel, a man who has done this for 33 years and could try this case by himself and win it, even though he hasn't a clue as to the substantive law, but he is happy to mentor you and keep you fed with amazing italian food, to-die-for chinese food, stomach-crushing french food (where he speaks French fluently to the owner); and even a home-cooked pork loin roast made by his lovely and engaging wife - and he periodically stops by the "war room" to shake your diet coke can and refill it if necessary, all because he believes in you;
- spending an hour with a jury after you tell them they can go home because they want to know more about the law and you, and they are happy to share their points-of-view and help you be that much better the next time;
- standing next to your client in the hotel lobby the night before he leaves, just after settlement as he towers over you and in his darling and sincere deep-bass, oklahoma accent leans in closely and says, "If you evah need ah-nay-thang, an' Ih do mean AH-nay-thang, you caaaaallll meh" and feeling your heart break just a little as you say goodbye to such sweetness, wishing you could've had just 24 more hours to slam the other side for him, because he's worth every second of sleep you have lost.
Yeah, I'm home. Enjoyed a whole weekend with nothing to do but clean up Christmas stuff, shop, play with doggies, talk to siblings, run on the treadmill, hang out with the kids, watch movies. It's a good life. And I am blessed.
And thanks to ALL of you who sent me well-wishes to my "back posts" while I was at trial. I get your comments on my blackberry instantly, and they were keeping me energized and awake at 3am knowing I had my Peeps out there cheering me on!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!