Sometimes I think that folks believe that the life of a lawyer merely consists of sending some paperwork back and forth, going to court, and talking to opposing counsel. It’s way more than that. Let me tell you about a day in the life of me, the attorney.
Thankfully I don’t have to be to work at any real certain time, unless I have a client meeting or a hearing. Most of the time, I get to work around 8:30, probably, but today I was a bit later, getting there around 9:00. It’s Daylight Savings Time week, when we all ridiculously spring forward, so my body’s clock is a bit off and will be for at least two weeks. It happens every year.
After I got to work, I figured I should deposit my paycheck, which was still on my desk since Friday. I had been in an all-day hearing yesterday, and I was busy Friday afternoon with a filing deadline, so I didn’t have time to do it until this morning. So, I headed for the bank.
There, I was (un)fortunate enough to get in line behind a woman in a MINI VAN (bane of my existence, I tell you) who was most likely either (a) doing a hostile takeover of the bank, (b) opening up a new mortgage, or (c) trying to divert funds to her secret Swiss bank account. I am not sure which. All I know is that it took her for-ev-er to get done, which caused a great delay in getting through the line.
After the bank, I went to the main courthouse to start some deed research. When parcels are combined, I’m not sure the clerks always look at the deeds closely enough to make sure the names are exactly the same. Thus, my problem today was to find out what happened in 1975, 1987, 1991, and 2004, respectively. It took about 2 hours. I went from the courthouse, to the assessor’s office, to the freezing-cold unheated storage room where the really old assessor’s stuff is kept, and then back to the courthouse. I finally found the needle in the haystack that I’d been looking for, but it took a while. Arkansas is known for its grantor-grantee index of property, which is all fine and good, but matching up a parcel number to three old parcel numbers with several different owners was not easy. Mission accomplished, though, I headed back to my office.
Then, I worked on a contract case, had three new client intake meetings, answered phone calls and emails, scheduled a hearing, worked on a case headed for mediation, and then printed some docuements to file tomorrow. All in a day’s work for me, it’s pretty typical, unless I have hearings.
I have learned in the past few weeks how to better manage my time at work so that I don’t bring so much work home every evening, but there are still nights that I work several hours trying to get things out the door the next day. Deadlines and commitments are all around, but I love the busyness of the firm.
The best part of my job? Seeing the smile on a client’s face when you tell them that you got them the deal they wanted with their ex; telling a grandparent they have custody of their grandchildren after a battle with the kids’ parents; knowing that you are helping someone each and every day. Even the little things to a client are important things.
I will close with this: As I was leaving the courthouse after this morning’s deed research, I saw a truck, with a trailer loaded down with furniture on it right next to the courtroom where a lot of the divorces are heard. I couldn’t help but wonder – was the trailer full of stuff the settlement in a divorce? Was that the “half of the marital property” that two parties owned? It also reminded me of the guy in Memphis from years ago who was told by the judge that he had to give his wife “half of everything”. He did. Out in the front yard, he used his handy chainsaw to cut up eveything they owned – couches, chairs, rugs, you name it. I’m most certain that’s not exactly what the judge meant.
A day in the life of a small-town lawyer is, sometimes, like a Grisham novel.
And I love it.