Thursday evening I had dinner at the Water Grill in Los Angeles with some opposing counsel. The Water Grill is a wonderful seafood place by the Biltmore Hotel downtown, not far at all from my old office on the Thirty First Floor of the IBM Tower of the Wells Fargo Building. It was a geographically diverse mix--one from NY, one from DC, one from SF, and one from Garland, Texas. We marveled at how kids just out of law school actually want to have lives now, and how the law used to be more of a profession. We are getting old.
The restaurant has a quiet, pleasant ambience that is arguably more "northern California" than "southern California". We had a lovely meal. I had half of a "baked halibut t-bone for 2", which was really good. I usually get along with opposing counsel just fine, having never subscribed to the theory that adversaries need be enemies. Sometime I do have the predictable spats with opposing counsel. I prefer,though the situation in which folks go to trial, and then have coffee on the breaks. Ignoring, of course, that I don't drink coffee.
I had three contested major motions for hearing yesterday, as well as a routine motion. I had a briefcase filled with notebooks of pleadings and briefs to review. One drafts and prepares and rehearses and reads for endless hours (a minimum with a complex motion), and then the hearing itself sometimes lasts only an hour. In California, judges often read the "tentative result" at the beginning of the hearing, letting the parties know who "has the burden" to try to persuade the judge to change his or her mind. In some counties, they actually put the tentative on a tape machine a few days before the hearing. I can think of no feeling more sinking than getting an adverse tentative from a court tape recording, and then dissolving into spending the weekend thinking about how to change the judge's mind. But when, as yesterday, all three tentatives are favorable, then there's an enormous sense of initial relief. Then a gifted opposing counsel starts to argue, and one ignores stress or relief, and just falls into the moment of the contested hearing.
I've been re-reading Vera Brittain's "Thrice a Stranger", which is an English feminist's impressions of America in the 20s and 30s. I had an old copy at my parents' house I had forgotten. I always enjoy Vera Brittain, whether it is "Testament of Youth", "Testament of Experience" or any of her other works.
I have not read "Testament of Friendship", but I must start that one soon.
I think she appeals to me because I find her so understandable, and yet her outlook is so different than mine. She always saw her life in terms of a struggle to escape provincial living. I never see my life that way. She tended to believe there was an "intelligentsia" among whom to associate, whereas my view is not quite the same.
But her earnestness, and her pluck always impress me. I also like a lot that she is someone who, despite at least one and perhaps one and one half's full portion of the ability to be angry or petty, never let that get in the way of fighting for peace and equality. There is much to be said for that. I do not read autobiography as often as novels, but when I can connect with a writer, it can be fun. Unfortunately, in my rush to get to court, I left the book in the LA Hilton.
I'll have to call them to hold it for me.
Yesterday I had an "all dressed up and no place to go" sensation. The woman at Budget Rent a Car, in penance for making me wait overlong, gave me a free upgrade to a Mustang convertible. Mustangs are to me the definition of cool, the "hip car" as an imaginary construct. But what can one really do with a convertible when one is just rushing to a hotel, and then rushing to an airport? I left the top down.
Last night we landed in an immenese thunderstorm. It delayed our landing over an hour. During the first portion, when we were above the storm, the lightning made
sections of the clouds illumine, and I thought of old horror movies, and Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory when the power surge made the lights flash.