This post marks my triumphant return, or, at the very least, my hope for a triumphant return to the blogosphere. For those among our brethren who haven't seen or heard from me for a while, you should not feel slighted. No one has seen me in quite some time. Since about mid-April (when Diamond and IPB tried to organize a birthday happy hour for yours truly) until Wednesday of this week, I have been deeply embroiled in preparation for, and attendance at, trial.
For the last 3 weeks I lived in a hotel in Philadelphia, PA. I missed the closing on my first house; almost missed my move into the same; and undoubtedly missed a number of worthwhile life experiences that can never be duplicated. Trials are, to put it lightly, all consuming, exhausting events. For those who have only experienced this key part of American civil society through the rose colored glasses of L.A. Law, Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, or what have you, let me be the first to tell you it ain't nothing like you've seen on TV.
Trial is an exercise in taking the most simplistic, common-sense issues and turning them into days-long inquiries that take the listeners to the zenith of tedium, and subject young associates to an un-Godly amount of work. Even the most straight-forward issue can be turned into a three-ring circus. As an example I offer my own experience.
For two weeks the parties presented evidence (including a number of experts) so that the jury in our case could determine whether the time spent putting on light-weight cotton smocks, aprons, hairnets, etc. is compensable time. After all of that evidence, and four hours of deliberation, the jurors concluded that this time was not compensable because it is not "work." You're kidding, right? You're trying to tell me that the 0.5 to 1.5 seconds it takes to put on a hairnet that weighs as much as a sheet of notebook paper is not work? You don't say.
Of course, the U.S. Department of Labor disagrees with this jury. So this is not the last time that a company will have to spend hundreds of thousands of hours to convince another group of common citizens that workers should not be paid for the same activities each of them does without pay every morning when they step out of the shower.
If anything the whole process of the jury trial was an education in how difficult it is for any one to resolve any thing for a small amount of money in our modern legal system. In the rather simple case I have outlined above there were about 11 attorneys involved. My firm sent 2 partners, 1 counsel, and 2 associates. The other side had 6 attorneys representing 3 different law firms. This is not to mention the jury consultants, litigation tech specialists, paralegals, etc. that each side employed. If it takes all of that to determine whether you have to pay dear old dad for putting on his apron when he goes out to BBQ, I can hardly imagine what it will take to litigate something that is actually important.
Regardless, I hope to be in touch with you all soon. I should have a little more free time in the coming months...until the next trial rolls around.