case closed!

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I work as an appellate law clerk now, quite different from my old job at a science museum. Though I still make a lot of mistakes, and though it can be disheartening to see people younger than me serving life sentences, today I discovered an aspect of my job that is like a ray of light, shining through the dark cloud of 9-5 drudgery.

When a case has been completed, or retained by a lawyer outside of our panel of attorneys, we no longer need to have it in the office. It is my job to make sure the case file is ready to go into storage, then I log the file in our computer and box it up. This was not difficult, but is necessary, both to keep track of important legal documents and to get some of those important legal documents the hell out of our file cabinets.

The challenge came in resisting the urge to loudly proclaim, "Case closed!" every time I put a new folder into a box. Then I would rub my hands together like I was brushing dirt off of them, and then knock off early to go play darts and drink boilermakers with the boys upstairs, giving Sally an affectionate yet authoritative pat on the ass as I breezed out the door.

I'd imagine it's like that if you work in the guts of a newspaper, the first time you have to halt the printing. You yell, "Stop the presses!" and all the other newspaper-printing technicians just roll their eyes, like they're too jaded and world-weary to see the simple joy in yelling a memorable phrase like that, especially old Charlie the ink press guy, though he don't smile at much of anything since they switched to the kind of ink that don't come off on your fingers. To a guy like Charlie, that's akin to heresy.

Anyway, I did my important legal work silently. Until the end of the day. It was quarter to six. Everyone had left. The last case in my stack was retained by a private attorney just over six months ago, so it was ready for storage. I typed in today's date into the computer and bellowed, "Case closed!" My voice echoed through the empty office. I crossed my hands behind my head and leaned back comfortably. If I'd only had a cigar and a devoted, pneumatic secretary, the picture would have been complete.

Was it stupid? Yes. Was the cleaning lady annoyed? Yes. Would I do it again? You bet.

1 Comment

Excellent start. Now if you can get used to those three-martini lunches, you'll start sounding like a real lawyer all afternoon long.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on August 18, 2003 6:34 PM.

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