Sunday, July 17, 2005

When Did I Start Working in a Saloon?

I am a legal secretary. One of the best things for me in my journey with a new case is getting to know opposing counsel through their letters. For the most part, it's business as usual. The mutual courtesies are extended and things are unremarkable.

Sometimes though, I find myself reading some angry, accusatory letter by the other side - what I categorize as a chest thumper.

The last time this happened, it was over discovery. Our office had issued some deposition notices. Per regular, cusotmary practice, we mailed the notices. What we didn't know was that one of the members of our mail room had started taking the overnight mail and the u.s. mail, and depositing them in transposed bins for pick up.

Because opposing counsel got his notice some 4 days after the date on the proof of service, he decided to call us out on our tragically inept practice of law.

The line that qualified this particular letter as a chest thumper was: "Now that I see your firm plays fast and loose with the rules of discovery..."

Fast and loose?

Nevermind that all he had to do was call us up and say "Hey, what's the deal? Can we move the deposition date around? Can we make this mutually agreeable?" or that the rules of mailing documents in California law have specific corrections for situations exactly like this - and we would have gladly worked it out - or that billing your client to write an entire letter over 4 days past a proof of service date on a deposition notice is fairly nit-witted... but

Fast and loose?

When I read those words, I immediately pictured me and my co-workers in a dirty, dusty western saloon. I further pictured us sitting around pimping out ways to get around California Discovery Rules - mad scientist cackle included. Not sure why. Perhaps the first time I heard that phrase I was watching a bad western. My dad had a habit of trying to convince me and my brothers that we loved western films. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, especially. Do I even have to tell you what life was like at our house when "Pale Rider" or "Tombstone" came out?

It made me giggle. I took it to the attorney I work for on the case and suggested that we write back: "Let's end this now. I'll be waiting for you outside of your office building tonight. We shall duel at sunset in the courtyard next to the decorative fountain. The winner can schedule the deposition on whatever day he wants."


Kathy said...

Fast and loose indeed!

They would be dueling with single shot pistols...right?

My dad was a HUGE John Wayne fan. I know the pain you went through!

Rev. Brandy said...

Oh, my God, do we really need any more proof that we were all separated at birth?

One way of bonding with my stepfather was being the last gal standing at the annual airing of "True Grit" in our family room. Yep, we'd put the videotape in, then Mom would vanish, presumably to rustle up some grub . . . my sister would head off to the outhouse --- and never return . . . and I was left to endure Rooster Cogburn with a man who really didn't get that I didn't get it.

Complete with cackling laughter.

ZooooM said...

He he! Yeah, I can't even hear the title of a western without thinking of dad.