Saturday, March 10, 2007

Even A Blind Squirrel...

It turns out that my employer does not have an actual policy regarding employees blogging about work. And when discussing this with our executive director he agreed that we should establish some sort of rules, but that he also felt it would be acceptable if I wrote about work from time-to-time, so long as it was in non-specific ways that clearly avoided endangering attorney-client confidentiality.

And so that's what this blog is all about.

Work has been going really well. Most days I love my job. Other days I'm way to busy to have time to love my job. It was a strange thing, one day it seemed I was comfortably handling all of my cases, and the next I was suddenly at a full case load, frantically trying to get to all of the different clients I need to serve.

There's something quite rewarding about working at a legal aid service. Our clients causes aren't necessarily any more noble or meritorious just because they're poor. However, there are a lot of people who are poor because they've been victimized by the system, or that, because they're poor, are vulnerable to victimization by the system. Being there for these clients can really help level the playing field much of the time. Usually we're behind the 8-ball, since the laws are generally set up to protect the "haves" of society, but we can always take some comfort in the fact that our clients are no worse off than they would have been without us.

And, speaking of that....

I have officially won my first trial! The law was on our side. The facts were on our side. Really, my client won in spite of my lawyering, rather than because of it. [Which reminds me of a joke... "How to win a case in court: If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; if neither is on your side, pound on the table."]

It felt pretty good to win the case, and it was great because our client got a big fat judgment. Even the other attorney told me candidly that he thought we should win (though he was certainly a zealous advocate for his own client). Ultimately the court got the right result and that was the best part of it all.

This was, in a way, my first trial. I've had some motions that were pretty perfunctory. And I've negotiated a few settlements prior to litigation. I also had another trail scheduled, back in January, but for some reason the judge decided to rule against us (we were the defendant) without ever requiring the plaintiff to put on any evidence. There really was no trial in that case (though we did argue a motion, but that's certainly not a trial). Anyways, that case is being appealed. So on those facts, that pretty much makes this past week's case my first real trial. It was the first time I called a witness, had exhibits entered into evidence, had my questions objected to by opposing counsel, etc. It was amazing how fast it all moved, and how difficult it was to keep on top of every little point I wanted to make/refute/object to. God bless legal aid and our "learn-by-doing" approach!

P.S. I don't expect anyone from outside of Minnesota to get the song quote.

Great for lunch
Great for dinner


Kajsa said...


I'll email you soon with possible re-scheduling dates for your (and hopefully Laura's) visit - we have applicants interviewing this weekend, but they'll all be gone Sunday morning.

emnovak said...

way to go matt!

Thinking Fool said...

Awesome. Congrats!

joel. said...

You can be a wiener winner!

Congrats, Matt! I assume this is the case you told me about over IM. Way to go, dude.

Kendrick Novak said...

You can be a hormel winner!!