Stepping Up

You bust your ass for months, years, on a case.  Double and triple all-nighters, buying toothbrushes for the weary associates and partners who have their heads down on conference room tables.  Three to four hours of sleep a day for weeks on end.  You become One with the case and its documents, tapped in like the Matrix.  You go to court, though you sit in the overflow room, since you are not important enough to sit in the room with the Judge.  You are there only to carry documents, and hand them up to your Boss when necessary.  You’re junior, so it’s not really your job to speak, it’s your job to know everything.  You are there to be seen, and not heard.  Eyes open, mouth closed.

You start to get more senior.  Start to pipe up more during meetings.  Your Boss puts more confidence in you.  “You run this call – I have something else (i.e., more important) to do.”  Still, you remain relatively low-key.  You know you’re still not good enough to run with the big-dogs.

You bide your time, learning, speaking occasionally, marking up documents.  You get shut down and overruled, but once in a while, your comments slip through.  You sit in the main courtroom, in the middle or back.  You slowly gain responsibility for one or more agreements or pleadings, though your product is an ugly, misshapen ingot which must be hammered and refined by your betters into a surgical steel blade.

Your writing gets better.  Less red ink is spilled at your expense.  You learn what is important and what is not.  You learn how to pick your battles.  You are the Lead Associate.  You are the Primary Drafter.  You sit in the front of the courtroom.  You take fire, but now you know how to fire back. 

Suddenly, your Boss is called away, or indisposed.  The documents require your signoff.  A seat is saved for you in front of the courtroom bar.  Others speak.  It’s your Turn.

You step up to the podium…

1 Response to “Stepping Up”

  • and then you crap yourself. Stunned and unsure what to do, the judge continues as if nothing happened. You know he knows, yet as he moves on with the hearing, you start to think that maybe he doesn’t. Then the smell starts to seep into the courtoom. People are puzzled, confused.

    “What’s that smell?” people in the back of the courtrooom whisper to each other. You hear people lifting their feet, checking to see who stepped in a steaming pile of dog shit on their way in.

    Unable to take it anymore, the judge quickly wraps up the hearing, issuing a judgement in your favor. You think you got away with it, winning the first hearing you were in charge of.

    You turn to walk out of the room, giving everyone a full view of…

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