I know that in deep down inside, most of us know that lawyers are wrong more often than not, but that on the surface, they get credit for being the all knowing, wise sages of a company. They get the final word, because after all, they went to law school and should know better. Most of us are going to deal with them in a corporate setting. In the courtroom setting, it’s usually one lawyer against another lawyer. Most people that represent themselves lose. Which is why they get a lawyer. They are trained to look at a case from all angles and argue your case. The ones that do it better than everyone else, get loads of money.
I’m going to tell you about the time I won an argument at work with a lawyer. As you can see this did not happen in a court of law. Since I work for state government, we have a whole staff of lawyers who presumably are supposed to know federal citations/laws/rules/regulations like the back of their hand. At the very least, they should be able to find them. They are also supposed to make sure that our documents and procedures comply with these federal rules, etc. among other things. We send official documents through their office to review before they get posted for public review. I find that they spend more of their time rewriting sentences that they rewrote the last time we sent them this exact type of document on another topic. They do check to make sure all of our citations are correct though. But let me tell you, if you don’t know what a citation is, apparently it’s my job, not theirs, to come up with the appropriate citation or alternative way to say it without the specific citation that would normally go there. I thought this was part of their job. But I’m getting sidetracked, as that was another story and another lawyer.
So this particular document I am referring to is being reviewed for me for the first time by this particular lawyer. This lawyer was relatively new to the job so I’m thinking this was probably the first time they had reviewed this particular type of document. They had already reviewed a whole set of documents on the same subject, for a different purpose for me months back. The lawyer sends back my document stating that according to federal citation “blah blah blah,” that my informational packet needed to be available for distribution at certain said locations, when I had in there to contact me for a copy of this informational packet, as I had for all other documents for this specific purpose. I looked up the citation referred to and saw clearly that it didn’t relate to this purpose but to the purpose this lawyer had already reviewed for me months back. I did see how this could be confusing as this revelation was based on one specific word in the citation. So I sent back an email pointing out this specific word and explained that’s what was accomplished in the prior set of documents and explained how the purpose of this document was different. I also asked if the procedure had changed for some reason to let me know so I could alert my superiors.
The lawyer sends me an email back disagreeing with me once again and saying the same thing they did the first time. At this point I don’t get paid enough to argue with lawyers plus, if I had, this lawyer could have used their hotheaded lawyerness to tell my superiors how disrespectful or blah blah blah I was. I had argued once and that was enough for my peewee position, so I passed it on to my superiors. My boss’s boss came over and told me that I was right and had handled it properly, and then we called the lawyer together at my desk. Huh…we got the voicemail. So my boss’s boss left a message saying that I was correct and that maybe they needed to check with their boss for clarification/understanding of the citation. And to please approve so that it could get posted in a timely manner and to call either of us with questions. Victory!!!!!! That was probably the best day I have had at work so far. It’s not often that I get to be declared right, even if I am.
Next thing I get is an email with the approval, but contesting our interpretation of the citation as this lawyer checked with a co-working lawyer who agreed that the citation applied to this document, (this other lawyer’s pretty flaky in my dealings so I sense easily persuaded) but their boss was out and so they’d check with her when she got back for future documents of this purpose. We’ve heard nothing back since, and I just sent another one over for this purpose last week. All I got back was a snarky comment and more rewriting of their own rewritings. It may not have been snarky, maybe it was just very much to say, I’m a lawyer and you’re not, so I’m going to make a comment to you to make sure you know that I better than you.
Yes Yes oh great lawyer….you are better than me. Tell me why it is that you’re working for pennies at the state, essentially as an editor with your commas and “is, and, or but,” changes, when you could be making more money anywhere else working the same long hours you do here probably doing more meaningful work than editing commas???? Yes yes great lawyer, you ARE better than me!!! But I WAS RIGHT AND YOU WERE WRONG!!!! Now I’m going to do a happy dance!!! In your face.