Another Idol Bites the Dust

Posted on | February 3, 2011 | 9 Comments

Yesterday, I witnessed something sad.  I attended a deposition where I was merely a spectator.  I was just there to learn and observe and take notes.  The other two attorneys were older and more experienced that me.  At least one of the attorneys I was quite familiar with and had seen speak on several occasions.

The case was not one of mine. The issue was not one I’m familiar with.  The people involved have no bearing on me whatsoever.  But what I witnessed certainly does.  See, I’ve seen at least one of those attorney’s speak before. I’ve heard him expound on the denigration of professionalism in the law.  I’ve watched him lecture on how to be a better lawyer, a kinder advocate, a zealous representative without becoming a zealous and raging bitch.

And I’ll admit to being a bit star struck by him.  He’s a great attorney.  He’s well-respected in his field.  He’s charming and possesses a magnetic personality that just makes people smile.  In short, he is the type of attorney I always wanted to be.  So it was with great trepidation that I contacted him to ask if I could sit in on a deposition he was conducting in our area.  I don’t normally do things like that.  I normally don’t make an effort to reach out to other attorneys but this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.  This was an opportunity to watch an expert conduct discovery.  I couldn’t pass it up. 

He was charming. He was accomodating. He was thrilled that I wanted to  sit at his feet and drink the kool aid he was dishing out.  He would love for me to sit in on his deposition.

So I got up. I got dressed.  I drove the thirty or so odd miles to the downtown office and positioned myself quietly in the corner where I could watch a master at work. 

He swept into the room like a prince.  He was all smiles and waves, kissing babies and shaking hands.  Everyone loved him instantly.  The court reporter was starry-eyed; the witness looked like she was about to propose marriage; even the opposing counsel had a little twinkle in his eye.

And then the deposition began. 

Everything ran smoothly. For a while.  But when it came time for the opposing counsel to begin his cross-examination, everything changed.  My legal idol, the man I thought could do no wrong, the man I specifically called and asked if I could sit in on his deposition… the man who lectured across the state on professionalism and courtesy… is a fraud. 

An F-R-A-U-D.

I sat there in the corner and watched him sputter.  I watched him yell. I watched him interrupt the opposing counsel and make a scene.  I watched all my thoughts about the type of attorney this man was crumble into a big pile of shit on the floor.  He was more experienced than the other attorney and he made that clear.  He talked down to the other attorney like THEY were the ones who asked to sit in on the deposition.  He acted like the whole room should bend to his will and the fact that the other attorney dared to ask questions at all was so insulting that it was worthy of a tongue lashing not seen since Scarlett got her what for from Rhett Butler.

I was mortified.  I wanted to sink into a hole and disappear.  I wanted to erase the fact that this attorney knew I looked up to him. I wanted to reverse time and not make the call requesting to sit in on the deposition. 

“You are not what you say,” I wanted to yell at him. “You don’t practice what you preach!” But instead I sat. I watched. I took notes. Only instead of learning how to conduct a stellar discovery deposition, I took notes on what not to do.  I took notes on how I never wanted to treat my opposing counsel.  I starred comments that should never be said, looks that should never be made, sounds that should never be heard.

I set out to learn how to be a professional attorney from one of the lawyers who holds himself out to be the best of the best… the end of the line when it comes to ethics and professionalism.  I set out to learn how to treat opposing attorneys and how to better approach witnesses. And in the process I found out something interesing…

Just because you say you’re professional and ethical, just because you tell people how to be a better attorney, just because you THINK you are the best at what you do… it doesn’t mean you are.  This man seems to think he hung the moon and I bought in to that.  I believed he was what he said he was.  And shouldn’t that be the case? Shouldn’t we all say who we REALLY are and not who we wish we were?

 This man, this “attorney” who holds himself out as a professional in professionalism simply erases the notion that professionalism still exists.  After seeing him in action, I wish I could find everyone who has ever heard him speak and erase him from their memory. Because that is NOT what attorneys should be doing.  If he spoke about struggling with professionalism, I’d understand. If he spoke about having a hard time reigning in his desire to pistol whip other attorneys, I’d commiserate with him.  But when he holds himself out as ethical and honest and professional and then I witness otherwise? I have nothing but disdain for him.

I’m starting to understand why people don’t like attorneys.

Comments

9 Responses to “Another Idol Bites the Dust”

  1. Jana A
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Oh, that is so sad. I’m sorry he crushed your image of him. I’m sorry for you AND for him. What a shame.

  2. Heather
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    There’s talking the talk, and walking the walk. Good for you for owning up to the latter. Even if you don’t get all the attention and recognition, you can go to sleep at the end of the day knowing that you are the better person.

    My thought while reading most of this (not being a lawyer and all) is that this is exactly how I feel about most politicians… they get on a soapbox and lecture us on how we should live our lives, what laws and rules must be passed ‘for our own good’, but they never seem to apply the same standards/rules to themselves… it’s pretty sad.

  3. Bonnie
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    That really stinks that someone you looked up to professionally did not live up to the hype… sucks even more that he’s so full of himself for no reason.

  4. KLZ
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

    Hey did you know David’s whole family is full of lawyers?

    Just saying.

  5. tasha
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    Unfortunately I work for an attorney who displays the same actions as your previous idol. I love the legal field I am currently a paralegal with the hopes of becoming an attorney because of the good that they can do for people and the community. But I am mostly surrounded by attorneys who’s egos are bigger than the office building we are in and find myself wondering if they teach you to scream and cuss in law school?!? If you have to have this kind of attitude to be a “good lawyer” then I don’t want to be one. I am appalled on a daily basis by there tantrums and want so badly to get them little plaques for there desk with this quote by Randy Pausch “Just because your in the driver seat doesn’t mean you have to run other people over.” It’s nice to know that there are attorneys out there such as yourself that have personal morals and respect for their piers! Attorneys like you are the kind of attorney I would like to be one day!

  6. Mom on a Line
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    It is hard when idols fall, but it has been my experience, that most eventually do fall. Afterall, everyone is human. Don’t let it change your opinion of lawyers though. Egos do abound, but not everyone treats their adversaries poorly.

    I’ve sat through lots of depositions. Some go extremely easily, with the attorneys working well with each other to get the task done. Some depositions go really bad, with lots of ridiculous (and improper) objections. Some attorneys, who generally are nice, down-to-earth, and ethical, lose their cool when faced with questions they don’t want asked. It is the only way they know to defuse the situation, knock the other attorney off of their game, and create a record that will be difficult to quote in a summary motion or for proper cross examination at trial. Does this make it right? No, but it is good you’ve now learned what not to do.

    Not all attorneys act that way in depositions. Sit in another deposition with an attorney who is less talk and more action. An attorney who has tried lots of cases, rather than lectured. If they are too busy lecturing, they are not busy working up a case and preparing for it. Preparation is always key, especially with depositions.

    Good luck!

  7. Mom on a Line
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    PS

    An important thing to think about from this experience is: do you know how to handle an opposing counsel who acts in the same way when you are doing the questioning?

  8. Jennifer
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    It is hard when someone you respect shows you that they don’t deserve it. At least you got a chance to learn a lot of valuable lessons about what not to do.

  9. LegallyInsaneMommy
    February 4th, 2011 @ 3:05 am

    As an attorney I’ve had several similar experiences. It’s always sad when someone you’ve looked up too for so long, let’s you down. I’m sorry you had that experience. Did the person tell you anything at the end before you left? I’m wondering how he saw himself.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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