The past one and a half weeks have been the most eventful and certainly the most tiring yet enjoyable since I started work at the Firm 5 weeks ago. Staying back till eleven at night, marathon 9 hour session meetings, having the entire weekend burnt, the numerous research tasks, more admin and procedural matters to settle, assisting in the preparation of a defence to the opposing counsel's last minute application to strike out; the list goes on.
Needless to say, the erstwhile sacrosanct rule 1 of Surviving Pupillage 101 went out of the window some time ago. Staying back late though, wasn't all too bad. Here's why:
- You get to know how the system works and milk it for all its worth. Hence, the five dollars dinner allowance and the ability to claim for taxi fare after 8 PM were fully utilised; the dinner allowance was seldom claimed though as dinner was bought back by the secretary and charged to the clients throughout the entire course of the After the day's Trial-Client's meeting sessions. My cab fare came up to about $130.
- Getting all pally with the secretaries which is good because you hear all sorts of juicy details, know the ground better and best of all, they actually help you of their own accord and willingly at that. This duty is of course reciprocal: you help where you can and with regards to the same case.
- I found out the pattern of things in liti department: nice & relaxed working hours on normal days, hectic & heavy during the pre-trial and actual trial period. Something I think I'll be able to adapt to.
- You learn a lot more when you're on a big case. Naturally, you work a lot more too.
- I saved a lot of money on food. Everything gets charged to the client. Lunch & Dinner during meetings: Client. Pizza hut & Macs over the weekend: Client. Lunch at the Supreme Court Bistro during the trial: Client.
- I found out a lot of miscellaneous bits of information. Like how the conference room air con remote also works for the unit just above my workstation and how the office or more accurately the people left in the office really evolve after 8 : more chatty, we laugh more and I turn up the volume on my radio (kindly lent by the clerk) by 2 notches.
So even though it was tiring; hauling myself out of bed on some days was a Herculean task, going to work and staying late wasn't a drag. Shag yes, Pain no. Breakfast and Coffee certainly helped to jump start the day. Plus working on this mammoth case did have other benefits, I got to work with a Senior Counsel and an MP, see the way the case was handled and issues addressed, discuss the case, attend 4 days of the trial and see the Judge roll his eyes and diss the opposing counsels.
Some of the more memorable soundbites:
Mr A (Opposing counsel for 1st Defendant who got a real dressing down from the Judge on the first day of the trial and who got scolded daily thereafter): Your Honour, you are being fair to the Plaintiffs but you are not being fair to us, the particulars do not contain....
Judge: Mr A, can you please sit down so that we can continue with the trial? It is already 4.30 PM and you have wasted 30 mins of this Court's time on an issue I have said over and over again is a non issue.
Mr B (Opposing counsel for 2nd Defendant- after the Judge had dissed him on a number of his cross-examination points as being irrelevant): I'm sorry, Your Honour. Now, to return to my last meaningful question.
Judge: Which was yesterday.
Exchanges like these which were sprinkled liberally throughout the different days I attended were reward enough for all the late hours. Three days left for the trial, I've decided to pop in as and when I'm free after the PLC lectures to see the SC in action, this time in jeans and t-shirt while seated in the public gallery.
PLC is in itself a welcome break, 5 months of relative slackness, the ability once again to skip lectures and just laze about at home ^^. The Last Day wasn't bad, I got paid (finally ^^), got a couple of elusive chicks' numbers (even though they're old and wanted to trade numbers - secretaries remain infinitely useful) and went out with a bunch of the guy LA(junior lawyers)s for supper and Wine in what promises to be a monthly affair.
5 more months and I'll be back. And it's a thought which doesn't send chills down my spine or evoke any gloomy dismal feeling. The environment's nice as are the people (at my side at least ^^), the next 5 years will certainly be manageable. :)