There is a risk whenever you put forth strong opinions, anywhere you go or even if you go nowhere and write them down in a blog post. Whether you are a political figure or an unpopular mom at the local PTA, you can stir controversy. With controversy comes anger. And the old saying goes, “Anger is one letter short of danger.”
I have been a lawyer for much longer than I’ve been a mom. I have worked hundreds of cases throughout my career. I don’t talk much about that here because the whole purpose of the blog is to discuss issues arising out of my son’s diagnosis of autism. Sometimes, my worlds converge. Sometimes, I must pull my business card out like a subtle weapon and lay it down in front of my obstacles.
You may think this makes me lucky. Some of you might think it would be “fun” to wield that card. And, trust me, there are times it does come in handy. But what happened yesterday reminds me of the ugly side of law and having a business. Some of the many reasons, I hate the profession.
Yesterday was Easter. We spent a quiet morning at home. The Easter Bunny had just set down his basket when we got a call from the local police department informing us that there was a broken window at our office.
The night before around quarter after 11, I got a call from our alarm company informing me that a motion detector had gone off. They alarm company had called the police and informed me that if anything was amiss, the police would call. Well, guess what? They didn’t. Until 12:30 the following afternoon.
We arrived to find this.
Inside, my husband’s office appeared to be the only target. A nearly new iMac was taken as well as some other stuff. The alarm did go off almost immediately so whomever broke in took off before stealing a second desktop computer.
My question to the officer was why we were not called the night before. That officer was extremely honest. He said that a unit did respond but cleared the call!! Really? I could not yell at this officer because he admitted his guys made a mistake. It wasn’t his fault we were ripped off. The burglary was over when the cops cleared the call – wrongly as a false alarm. Plus, the cop I was talking to was not on duty when it happened.
Unfortunately, we do not know who did this. Several possibilities are under investigation. One possibility is the one that gives me the least peace of mind.
My husband will start trial a week from now. The organization being sued does not like being sued. Someone may have been trying to remove evidence one week prior to trial. If that was the intent, the operation was botched because they got nothing.
That possibility reminds me of the other seemingly unreal parts of our practice. Things that occurred before my son was born and things to which we had not been exposed for over five years. Things that I had almost forgotten until the break in.
When you are a lawyer, you can do many things. Contractual work, research, advocate and try cases before juries. We are advocates. We do not do contractual work (unless it is part of a controversy involving evidence). We do not review or write contracts unless it’s part of a bigger picture.
In our kind of law, we present arguments. “Argument” being the key word. You acquire, by the very nature of the profession, adversaries. Adversaries can be polite but you can be sure that they will take every opportunity to stab you in the back, the moment you turn away.
This profession is contrary to my nature. By nature, I am a nice person. Really. But, like a person who dons a uniform to perform their duties, I don a persona. A persona that is not nice. That’s not what I get paid to do. I get paid to win. I only advocate what I believe in. And, even if I do believe in it, I must know I have a good chance to win. We need evidence. We need documents and photographs and tangible items to prove the case, not just someone’s word.
So, given the nature of the law we practice, we do not take small cases. This leads to some bitter contention from powerful people. Long ago, I took on a neurosurgeon who botched a surgery so bad, a successful young manager of a financial institution was severely disabled. Her surgical career was at stake. I received a letter threatening me, “anonymously”. It required police contact.
There was a time when the boyfriend of a defendant was caught checking under the car we drove to trial each day by the bailiffs who were working in the courtroom. They informed us, during a lunch break, that we might want to check our vehicle for damage. We could not believe these things were happening to us. We were afraid the brake lines were cut or the tires were slashed. It turned out to be nothing more than suspicious activity.
So, the Easter “party” at the office, was a high stress affair. Our legal assistant, Jessica came with her boyfriend. We spent the afternoon cleaning glass, talking to the police, giving and receiving information, handing over potential evidence to determine who did this and trying to determine what was missing.
Amazing, through all of this, my son was in high spirits, hamming it up for the police officers. We spent most of the time in my husband’s office where the break in occurred. He got hold of a gavel my husband kept in his office and proceeded to bang it on daddy’s desk. He then looked at all of us and asked, “Did you bang the gavel?” I advised him to assert the 5th and tried to redirect his interest.
My son has special needs. Sometimes, he can be annoying. I worry about every little thing concerning him. Yet, he is still, overwhelmingly, a joy and a half. He and I have fun. There is love and innocence and honesty.
My momhood has taken me away a lot from the stark contrast of a career built on argument and exposing lies, corruption, hate and discrimination. A career in which my protagonist was severely injured. A career where someone, through irresponsibility of others, had lost their life and that loss left deep, irreversible scars.
I have mostly stepped out of that war room to fighting a different kind of battle.
In this battle, the protagonist is an innocent child. I will try my best to keep him from being exposed to the fights I have daily to get him everything he needs to grow and flourish. This is not an ugly kind of war. It is, in fact, a beautiful career path.
While one road I knew, becomes overgrown, as I travel there less and less, the other becomes familiar territory. This new road is the one I can cherish for the rest of my days.