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Musings from the Other End of the Pleading

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For the past month, ever since I learned that I’d been named as a defendant in Rakofsky v. the Internet, I’ve been getting acclimated to life on the other end of the pleading. In my seventeen years as a solo, I’ve inhabited a comfortable spot on the signature line. I still get a thrill at the sight of my signature alone and proud, identifying me as the author and guaranteeing the quality of my work. At that end of the pleading, I’m in the driver’s seat, pushing the case in the direction that my client wants it to go.

But now, as a defendant, I am ensconced in the passenger’s seat on the other end of the pleading. Initially, acting as both the consummate, micro-managing lawyer and stressed-out litigant about having to deal with a frivolous nuisance of a lawsuit, I tried to assume control of the case by interjecting my opinions and peppering my lawyers with questions. Yet after just a few weeks, I’m surprised at how easy it’s become to sit back and let my lawyers take the wheel. To entrust them to make the final decisions about the case strategy and approach so that I don’t have to obsessively examine every angle. To listen as they give voice to the issues that matter – like my First Amendment rights as a blogger to express my opinions and help new solos stay out of trouble – so that I don’t have to fight by myself. To let them deal with this narcissistic, self-righteous plaintiff and his soon-to-be-former lawyer. (See recent iteration).

As a lawyer, I’ve always realized that we can solve clients’ problems, vindicate their rights or effect justice. But until I came over to this end of the pleading, I never fully appreciated how much lawyers (well good lawyers, that is) do to simply make our clients’ lives easier – and how very important that is.

  • Amen.

    It’s a learning curve, too.  We want clients to let us do our job without micro-managing.  Being a client (perhaps especially when you’re also a lawyer) makes you understand just how hard that can be – and how smart.  And it’s probably useful (although perhaps not worth the costs) to experience litigation from the other side of the desk insofar as it can help us better understand how our clients feel.

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