Sunday, June 05, 2005

Deposition Seminar

I spent almost all of last week in a stupid seminar on how to give depositions (sworn interviews of witnesses or parties).

Lawyering + Role-playing = grrrrrrr

Several times each day we had to take a 12-15 minute deposition in a mock case. This was like law school all over again, mostly because I wasn't prepared and just don't care. All of the other tools in my section had highlighted, tabbed and indexed the materials and prepared typed outlines for each deposition exercise. I was super-busy with work, so I didn't even read the damn materials before arriving on Wednesday. Luckily I am good working off the cuff.

The stupid seminar was nine hours each day with hours of expected prep each night--but my boss kept assigning me new work, due the next day, each night. Fucker. Needless to say, I was growly and not pleased. I didn't go into work after the session on Friday and haven't been there all weekend--God only knows what 'emergency' I left festering on my desk. I'll find out Monday morning. To top it off, my boss keeps mentioning how expensive it was to send us to this seminar. My thought: I didn't ask for this.

Him sending us to the seminar is reminiscent of getting braces, because it sucked, I never wanted it in the first place and I supposed to feign gratitude instead of griping about it. Double grrrrr.

Anyway, there were several things that I found annoyingly humorous about the whole affair. Most of the attorneys were young and/or beginners. We were supposed to wear suits or other appropriate business wear. Triple grrrr.

The diamond on a woman's hand caught my eye because it was so huge and garrish. I looked around the room and noticed that the rings (engagement, wedding and other) of my 'female classmates' were all huge and ugly. Apparently the universal jewelry request was, "please throw as many large diamonds on my hands as possible--and don't bother with taste, scale or style". Each ring was uglier and more ostentatious than the one before. Then, I was in an elevator with these women, and one of them gushed that everyone's rings were Just Beautiful. All of the women, but me, trust their hands out and began oohing and ahhing at each others' diamond encrusted digits. grrr grrr grrrr grrrr. I seriously considered vomitting, or at least throwing my short-nailed, chain-oiled hands into the mix.

These women disgust me. (I'm sure the feeling is mutual). So many of them looked damn-near alike. Expensive Coach, Gucci, Louis Vutton or Chanel bags. Fugly shoes that probably cost as much as my rent. Blond highlighted hair and super-manicured nails. Sleek business clothes and all-important demeanors. Nine. Hours. A. Day. Several times my arm itched for a backhand, but I didn't lay a hand on nary a processed blond hair. I would hate hate hate being expected to dress and groom myself like that everyday. Sure, they probably make significantly more money than I do, but imagine how much money they spend on their appearance. Plus, to me the bags, shoes and especially diamond rings advertises that they are shallow women who haven't learned to think for themselves. How else can it be explained that they are walking around with a down-payment for a condo on their fingers, and carrying purses that cost as much as mortgage payment (or my road bike)? So. Fucking. Stupid.

Anyway, three weird instances happened during my depositions of 'witnesses', who were played by actors. First, I was told by the instructor that I should really use my smile more when dealing with hostile or difficult witnesses, because it is 'so warm and engaging that they will just melt.' WTF!? This harkened me back to the horror of the Keep your Apples Up! seminar. The next day, a different witness mentioned that she found herself telling me things that she knew she shouldn't, because I seemed 'so sweet', and the (different) instructor agreed that this will happen a lot to me. Finally, I knew that a witness was lying to me, so instead of pressing her about it, I just stared at her until she ended up screaming at me. The instructor cut the exercise off at that point as the actress apologized, but said that she was really uncomfortable because I was so intense.

No one else in my group had any similar reactions, and none of their comments were so bizarre (mostly about organization, tempo and follow-up questions). So what the hell am I supposed to get from this? The reactions weren't at all consistent. Am I supposed to melt witnesses with my sweet smile, or shake them down with an intense stare? Also, if this is how I come across during a workshop that I don't give a shit about, then how am I perceived when I speak about topics that I am truly interested and invested in? Weird weird Weird.

Anyway, my level of 'professional' dress just got lower and lower. The first day I wore a suit--with a racer-back athletic top as my shirt, and bobbysocks and maryjanes. On the second day I wore a skirt with a rip in it and ugly, ugly sandals (and no pedicure!). Friday was a completely cut-up skirt and turtleneck. I dragged my helmet with me on my junky old backpack and went for rides during lunch instead of heading to the bar across the street or checking messages like everyone else did. Before one session, my small-group discussed what they wore to work normally. Most of them liked to wear suits and therefore wore them often. Why in the world would any sane human being prefer to wear suits? I prefer to wear my underpants and a tanktop, never would I wear a suit if it weren't expected. Lawyers are weird. The field of law blows.

One substantive thing that I realized as I gave my off-the-cuff depositions, was that I THINK better than the other attorneys in my group. They all followed the fact patterns directly and didn't deviate from the material that they were previously given. I asked the witnesses questions that I thought were natural, but not spelled out in the materials, and learned new, important facts each time. Part of this came from my scattered previous work experience, but mostly it came from just putting clues together and following the path. This sort of deduction has served me well in life and law--and I am coming to realize that it might actually be sort of rare. Very sad, but very helpful for me to realize.


At 4:41 PM, Blogger freewriter said...

the bitching is entertaining, but you'd be way happier if you could feel some compassion for all the ninnies…

At 10:59 PM, Blogger jojo said...

I went to school with a similar group of these ninnies: I'll save my compassion for the people whose lives these attorneys will make miserable as they gain power.

I bitch because these ninnies are obviously intelligent, but they don't apply their logical brains to evaluate their own lives. It is one thing to work two jobs and sacrifice to put food on your kids' table. However, choosing to work the same hours for glittering finger decorations and fancy clothes is idiocy. Most of the attorneys that I know simply frit away most of their money and trap themselves in their miserable jobs by their luxurious (but unhappy, unhealthy) lifestyles. Such a fucking waste.

My views may seem cynical or condescending, but my vantange has long afforded me an ideal observation perch.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger freewriter said...

I agree that they are out of balance, but my thinking is that such blind selfishness will come back to them eventually. That's why I [try to] feel compassion. But I hear you: just want to shake them and say "Wake up!"

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came across this looking for tips on how to dress for my deposition next week. The only dresses I have are about 10 years old and slacks, the same. So I am at a loss and no money, so I'm going to a free give away place to pick up other peoples 10 year old stuff. I think this whole dress like you are going to church stuff is rediculous. The last church I attended was come as you are and jeans were all over the place. When are our court systems going to grow up and realize not everyone has. Plus my energy has been compromised by the accident I was in and just taking a bath is very hard. Wearing something comfortable because of the pain I am constantly in for the last year and a half. I'm lucky to bathe once a week. If part of the things I can't do anymore includes hygene unawareness, then you'd think they could have alittle compassion and take that into consideration for the deposition. Oh, I just saw where Britney Spears was found to have not worn a bra to her deposition over her child custody case. WHAT difference does it make, does that make her an unfit mother? Are people just getting too superficial or what. In a way I am glad I'm getting old, I'll be leaving this wierd society someday.


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