Prior to whatever it is I do now, I used to practice law. This was back in the 90’s, when you actually had to do work because you didn’t have the internet to distract you. For me, those days seemed endless. Although I was a General Practice lawyer, somehow I had to good fortune of winding up with most of the the divorce cases in the two offices I called home. At one point this would have been appealing. Any child of the 70’s who was a fan Happy Days had to be moved by the episode when the guys, Richie, Potsie and Ralph started working for that divorcee who was “hot to trot”. Divorcee = hot to trot. The phrase burned in my head. At the time I didn’t know any divorcees, so who was I to argue. I found out 20 years later that Happy Days screwed me. Divorcees weren’t hot to trot, most of the clients, both men and women were out of their minds.
In my six years of practice, I learned that when handing a divorce, anything could happen, especially when someone says things will be easy. First lesson of divorce law, when someone say uncontested, don’t believe them. When I signed on as counsel, for what turned out to be my last case, I found the case was uncontested, expect for the fact that that there was cheating, stolen checkbooks, drugs, kidnapped kids, false businesses started and that was just the start.
As the divorce was rolling along, and getting crazier by the minute, I was invited to dinner by the father of my client. He was paying the bills for the contested part of this uncontested divorce so he wanted to know what was happening. I agreed, and then immediately regretted it. He chose a place in Little Italy and would be driving. Now, at that point, I had seen my fair share of mob movies, and although this man wasn’t connected, as far as I know, I was still sweating. Was he going to rub me out? Would he just push me out of the car while driving over the bridge? Why the hell couldn’t the client at least be hot to trot? My paranoia kicked into full gear when I was invited to sit with my back to the door; now I wouldn’t see the hit coming. When the waiter quietly came over to take our order I almost had a heart attack. Every little shuffling of a chair or creaking of the front door made me jumpy. I even thought about going to the bathroom to check for any guns taped to the back of the toilet.
Of course the reality was far more bizarre than even my imagination. Instead of rubbing me out, I spent the entire night being quizzed by some hot shot, pseudo celebrity attorney who was trying to steal the case from me. I had spent months toiling over this insane case and now someone else wanted it. Just as I was about to happily relinquish control, my client stood up and said I was his attorney and he wasn’t changing. He then stormed out of the restaurant leaving me with his father and this other lawyer who I’m sure billed for his time. I honestly can’t remember much being said after that, except check please.
A happy post note. The case was finally finished and my client lives a happy life to this day…and the attorney who tried to steal the case eventually got disbarred.