STAYING SANE AS A LITIGATOR 4: : A HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: KNOWING THE EVERYONE HAS LITIGATION NIGHTMARES
Litigation gives rise to its own pressures. Every litigator with any degree of experience will have horror stories. I thought it worthwhile repeating the advice given by the lawyers of Twitter for Halloween a few years back. You will see that everyone has “issues”. If you hit a problem in litigation you are rarely the first. The key point is not to be scared into silence or inaction, seek help as soon as you can. The points here are from lawyers all over the world.
DEADLINES, COURTS AND IMPOSTER SYNDROME
So what keeps you awake at night as litigators
Blowing a deadline
The thought of ever having to present a case at the SDT again
Anything in Central London County Court
Cross-examination of my side’s witnesses and whether I’ll be able to keep a look of dismay off my face.
Emailing judge by mistake and then being forced to pretend you meant to invite them to the xmas do.
Masters moaning that orders aren’t in font size 11 or 12 times new roman.
Whether the e-discovery vendor / software / system deleted all of the redactions we spent weeks doing in the final production
A certain DJ who I’m not going to name on here.
A fax at 4pm on a Friday
#lawyerfrights never happy news
hence my rule not to send a fax to other side after 4.00pm on a Friday unless I really mean to p*** them off
When someone bandies about the s work (service) when it doesn’t need to be
Finding out that your latest Sussex trial venue has also now closed
good old fashioned imposter syndrome – that One of the two of us is an idiot and that it will turn out to be me.
Sunday telcon with panicking sol -then batting with a Defence to 1/3 of the Claim (i.e. middle & off stumps exposed)
One word: clients
Still to this day (nearly 20 years later): memory of faxing advice for client to other side & letter for other side to client
One word. Limitation.
Letters that say “Please find enclosed by way of service our client’s application to strike out your client’s claim”!
Reading a transcript of what I remember to be a brilliant bit of advocacy only to discover I’m clearly a blithering idiot.
A certain CJ who thinks spending a quid in a million quid claim is disproportionate.
Losing to a Litigant-in-Person. [runs away]
Receiving a letter which starts “In 1994 you acted for…” Better call the insurers
Forgetting to paginate your trial bundle
Judges who never ran cases axing my costs budgets, summarily assessing my costs and detailed assessment
Can’t be worse then sending an internal email slating the other side and copying the other side in
The ‘test dream’ but forgetting robes before
Being threatened by a LIP in front of J and me ignoring it, then J insisting I stay behind at end to check LIP wasn’t waiting
Mine would be not filing your cost budget on time (thankfully, it hasn’t happened to me, and it hopefully never will!)
“Mr Nicholls, this is the court office, the Judge has asked me to call. You’re supposed to be at trial today….”
Usher: “The judge wants to see you in Chambers. Alone. It’s about that tweet.”
Usher: “The judge wants to see you in Chambers. Alone. It’s about that limerick.”
When you think you have pressed ‘Save’ & hey presto by dark magic your computer falls over and reverts to an earlier document missing half.
Discovering late on that your client kept a detailed (unmentioned, undisclosed & incriminating) diary throughout the saga.
See http://www.catribunal.org.uk/files/Jdg1021Umbro011004.pdf … from para 312.
Discovering that the unprepped summons just hospital-passed to you for that morning is before Master Warren (that dates me)
Watching in fascinated fear as the judicial spotlight hovers critically over a document you had barely noticed before trial
Client pointing to a shelf of files 4 days before the expiry of a final order for discovery (as was), opening one and…aargh
Enter settlement meeting confidently; other side unveils hitherto unmentioned and damning facts; client’s face a picture
After con with very learned counsel, client’s shirt wringing with sweat. Later hearing that he was dead by tea-time
Unassigned list at CLCJC
“The witness statements were all sent a bit late – could you please make an oral application for relief from sanctions?”
And there’s the dream where I open my file for my skeleton argument and every page is blank.
And the interesting variation of this dream where I opened the file to find only photocopies from the Bible. Analyse THAT
Advising your client you haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance, then going on to win
E-filing a skeleton argument then finding out roommate has done *find all* “possession” – *replace with* “death by stoning”
L’esprit de l’escalier – if only I’d said this or that, we’d have won…
How about this one: “The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week.”
I have a recurring nightmare that I’m rdg for my Law degree & never turn up for lectures, tuts or do any work then dont sit the exam. Hell!
I have been having that nightmare since 1981
I have a recurring nightmare of sitting my evidence exam and being paralysed
Being late to court, forgetting papers, leaving White Book on the train, not having a clue what I’m doing – the usual.
I do have regular nightmares (the literal kind) where I’ve forgotten my gown, the bus gets lost, I can’t get to Court…
Sending my skeleton argument to oppo or J with asides to myself (think this argument is a bit rubbish/insert law here) still in as comments
the SRA handing you a list of files they want to review with yours included
The things I wish I had asked / said in court but didn’t. Like the perfect come back to a remark which only occurs in those sleepless hours
You are in court and you’ve forgotten your script. Stage fright ++++
Instructions to csl to draft claim form and PoC. Limitation expires Friday. Pls advise as to correct identity of the Def
No matter how many years I do this job, I will never escape the lurking paranoia as I drive to Court that I’ve left the brief at home
I stop to check quite often … then stop again to check I checked correctly …
I would add: when a client says those dreaded words “it’s a matter of principle for me”
2 recurring nightmares: taking my finals and not being ready for them + finding myself in court with no (or few) clothes on.
I woke up from a worrying dream about limitation and expired court deadlines. It’s 24 years since I was in practice. Then I found this…
#lawyerfrights has to be getting the “Judicial Raised Eyebrow”. Great when it’s in response to the other sides’ conduct, but otherwise…
Just read the new bits. Now increasing my medication.
I’ve only twice actually been late for court. Not in the last twenty years. And yet, I still dream about it regularly.
Just reading that + my stress levels rose. Night before decision in v impt case I woke up in a cold sweat, dreamt we had only won £10!
I had my very own legal fright when I checked courtserve and noticed which Judge I had for tomorrow’s hearing. Baptism of fire with DJ….
Oh,the unqualified joy of finding a STUPID error in a document I proof-read twice!!
When that happens after hitting send to court doesn’t it get upgraded to a
Lord/Lady Justice’s question on what exactly the scope of the appeal is: ‘Grounds of Appeal are unclear’. …..Are they…?
Halfway through 1 day hearing pupil asks why bit of the Companies Act isn’t relevant. Ran to ladies and googled it. It was.
Must have been forty years ago when I made my first appearance in court as an expert witness. It was a winter`s day with the first snows of winter on the ground in Scotland. With my client`s we were shown into a high ceilinged large room resembling a library to wait for our legal team. It was rather chilly in the room. I then saw a diminutive figure, dressed in some strange garb enter the room from a door from the far end, heading for another door in the opposite corner. I hailed to him and he stopped and came over. I told him we were cold and would he mind to turn the heat up a touch please. He said he would see to it and went on his way.
Subsequently we were called in to court and stood when the judge walked in. When I saw who it was, I was horror stricken, it was that diminutive man who I thought was the janitor. The trial started and I was called into the witness box. When I was introduced the judge raised his eyes from behind his pince nez specs and said, yes we have met, I trust it is now warm enough for him here, if not I am sure we can turn the heat up for him “.
No amount of heat would have been sufficient for those chilling few words.