Shop Talk and Croissants

A bespoke tailor represents expertise

Last week I was looking forward to my first chance to speak on the record. But instead of a stressful week of confronting new challenges and accomplishing my goals, I had a rather boring week with almost nothing notable to speak of. Scheduling conflicts caused me to lose a lot of time.

I took a personal day on Monday, I had class on Tuesday and Friday, and everyone took the day off for Yom Kippur on Wednesday. I was at the office on Thursday, but it was an uneventful day. I didn’t go to court. I hardly spoke to anyone, much less spoke on the record. Instead, I typed up a motion for continuance and listened to recorded inmate phone calls for confessions or other admissions.

All in all, it was a pretty boring day. Yet I did do one exciting thing on Thursday—the HCBA’s Trial and Litigation section luncheon. The luncheon is held quarterly, so this was my first opportunity to attend since joining as a student member in May.

I’ve been attending the general HCBA luncheons since my first semester in law school. As a student member, I’ve always felt humbled in comparison to the attorneys present. But I never felt intimidated until I met the lawyers in the Trial and Litigation Section. As a rule, trial lawyers seem to be cut from a different cloth—an expensive, bespoke cloth. Conversations revolve around shop talk and tricks of the trade instead of sports and the weather. Since I didn’t really know anyone, I just listened most of the time. I picked up tips for forcing a settlement offer, for weeding out problematic jurors, and for preparing expert witnesses. I actually have to pay for the trial lawyers’ luncheons (general section is free), but if I could bug every table, I’d pay ten times as much.

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