Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pet Peeves and Personal Skeeves

Angry Thursday came a day early this week. I am blaming the short week last week, together with some unhealthy repression.

Work is currently kicking my ass, owing both to clients and colleagues and bosses. I have three cases that are challenging my desire to practice law, if only because none of them should be in litigation. They are no-brainers - cases that should be decided in our favor as a matter of law and freaking common sense. Two are languishing because of some utterly fucked up standards of review. The lawsuit that should be dismissed against our client is stuck in a backlog one of the busiest dockets in the country and the judge hasn't given it any meaningful consideration in over a year.

1) Case #1: former spouse of a very well known but one-hit wonder writer. They divorced secen years ago and settled their property as they then knew existed. Of course, one-hit wonder discovers infringements of his very well known work that occurred throughout the course of their marriage, when they held the copyrights as co-owners (my client actually bought the copyrights from a bankruptcy trustee because her former spouse is an idiot when it comes to managing money). The law is truly black and white on this point - unless you explicitly assign the right to sue for past infringements (which they didn't), the former co-owner retains the right to sue for those infringements and share in any proceeds realized from a settlement therefrom. One-hit wonder hit the mother-freaking jackpot and refuses to account to her, his former co-owner, for the multi-million dollar settlement. However, because there is freaking NO OVERSIGHT OF ARBITRATORS WHO DO NOT KNOW HOW TO APPLY FEDERAL COPYRIGHT LAW, we are stuck in a procedural quagmire, where no appellate court wants to review the arbitrator's misapplication of the law.

Think about that. You agree to arbitration because it is supposedly cheaper and faster in resolving disputes. The arbitrator, however, completely disregards the controlling law and fashions some result he deems equitable, but has no support in the law. Nine times out of ten, you have no meaningful remedy. Why the fuck anyone would agree to arbitration when this is possible is beyond me. Beware the arbitration clause.

2) City employee with 22 years of exemplary service is inexplicably placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation of "discourteous conduct." The allegations arose from a departing employee with a persecution complex whose husband conveniently is a fellow employee and friend of my client's boss. The allegations against her are vague and described in "themes", and include such gems as "she said to me "once you get on my shit list, it is hard to get off." This prompts a four month investigation (did I mention my client had never been disciplined for anything or had any type of negative comments in her personnel file and that the City had never done this to anyone, including police officers who shot someone?) and, eventually, a demotion and month's suspension without pay. In what goddamn universe is that reasonable? The shit list comment, incidentally, was the worst offense cited. Now, the appellate court can only consider whether the City acted arbitrarily or capriciously, and that is a difficult standard to meet, to say the least.

3) Client was sued by a competitor for making statements about its own services. Such statements included "we developed an innovative and better way" to do what they do. In the two years since the competitor filed the lawsuit, they have done absolutely nothing to substantiate their claims. Lucky for them, we are in the Central District of California and the court is about two years behind. Meanwhile, my client spends copious amount of money trying to get a nuisance lawsuit dismissed, all at the whim of the court. Our trial is set for the beginning of October, having twice been postponed with little notice from the court (you might remember that, Norm). It is more likely than not that the court will again postpone it a week before the trial date, which means my client will spend a shit ton more money getting ready for a trial that isn't going to happen and, when the court finally gets around to actually reviewing it, will dismiss for want of merits.

It is a legal system, not a justice system. Lather, rinse and repeat to self.

While I am at it (bitching about work), let me get personal.

1) I have a fairly new co-worker who is really nice and terribly lonely. I should be a better friend to her, as Seattle is a hard city for newcomers and I really think I could make things better for her socially. I don't, however, because of several pet peeves. She is a lingering colleague - the type who comes into your office and stays too long. When in the middle of such conversations, she does this thing with her voice that makes it....scratchy? I guess that is it, although it really doesn't capture the annoyance factor. She also finishes your sentences, which is something I am now acutely aware of if I start to do it. Worse, however, is that she interrupts you in the middle of your sentence and changes the topic to the most random of subjects. I could provide numerous examples, but what would be the point? So bizarre and irritating. I need to get over myself, or, in grown up parlance, perhaps point out the behavior to her and work it out.

2)My boss and I are usually golden, but right now, I have a lot of pressure on me. I am a rainmaker for my firm - the only associate, I might add, who is a rainmaker - and there are internal factors at play that are placing a heavy burden on my shoulders. I hear this tone in my voice when I speak to him that I absolutely hate and immediately apologize. My firm has been good to me, particularly in times where I was hardly in my best emotional state and I need to check myself. That said, unless and until I am a partner, don't ask me to do the heavy lifting.

3) Okay, this is just foul. New legal assistant is more competent than the last and much more personable. A little irritating, but all told, a nice girl. Today, as I am spiriting back and forth from the printer, I see her in the file bare feet! Bare fucking feet. I never really considered whether I had a skeeve on feet until that moment. Ick. I realize heels are uncomfortable, but we hardly have a dress code mandating stilettos or the like. There is just no excuse for walking around an office barefoot, even if you are sporting hose. When the hell did I develop this new skeeve? No idea, and perhaps it is just situational.

That said, tonight as I drove home, I came up next to a lovely 5-series BMW, where the passenger's well manicured toes were plainly visible on the dash. Ick. No idea why I am suddenly skeeved out by feet. I don't mind bare feet in one's house, and Lord knows, at my house and my family's houses, we eschew the shoes. At the beach? No problem there, either. Why I had such a reaction to it today is anyone's guess. I have massaged and rubbed my exes' feet in the past and thought nothing of it - hell, B LOVED it. God, I hope I am not getting some weird OCD about bare feet.

What meaningful thoughts for hump day, disguised as Angry Thursday. Deep down, I am starting to think that I probably do need a change. I have been with my firm for five years and although I have enjoyed it, I think I am burning out. I think I need a change, having been in limbo on many levels for a long time. I need to act deliberately and carefully in figuring out where I am going professionally, and perhaps shaking that aspect up will create momentum in other areas of my life.

Also, my sister needs to send me those goddamn tortillas. I swear to all that is good and holy in this world that I could live on tortillas.

Finally, it is utterly unsurprising that, since Saturday, I have expected to meet with B to get my papers and the cash he owes me, to no avail. He is an abject liar and has become famous for this bullshit. I have to deal with it until I get those goddamn papers, which, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why he won't give them to me. Makes no fucking sense at all.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.


Norm said...

I do remember that -- you were so upset I thought it wasn't work, but personal (heh).

You would not like my office these days -- nobody wears shoes, and on account of the fire everyone's got blackened soles that won't come clean from all the ash that was into everything. Eww!

And while I'm already making you cringe, I should tell you that I didn't wear shoes (except for rugby cleats and hiking boots when required) for about three years when I was in college. :D

cornutt said...

That's the bizarre thing. I don't mind bare feet as a general rule. I have hardwood floors and encourage guests to remove their footwear. I don't mind it outdoors, either, where you are supposed to get dirty.

But put those bare feet in our brand new offices? Yeah - for some unknown reason, skeeve. God, I hope I didn't learn any OCD behaviors from B.

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