Every had one of those days at work? No, not those kind of days. I have too many of those kinds of days, and I don't like them. I'm talking about one of those days where you manage to figure out or do something that is so great, all must rejoice in your awesomeness.
I'm having one of those days. I am awesome.
It may not really translate to many professionals outside of the law, but I'll give it a shot. Lately we've been getting some weird things in from our counterparts. Motions and the like that are asking for or bitching about things that are contrary to how we've all done things since 1997 and/or what the law says. About every other day brings something new, and my boss and I shake our heads at each other and wonder what the other guys are smoking.
Today I had to prepare a response to one of those weird items, and as my boss and I discussed it we kept saying that it was just wrong, it has to be wrong what they're trying to do, but it was so odd we didn't have anything offhand to point to as proof. It's like trying to find where our laws or the Constitution says we all have to follow the Constitution.* So I got onto our legal research site and found a case that stated outright they could not do what they were trying to do.
When this happens in the legal field, this makes you feel like a rock star. I'll tell you a secret about the law: most of the time we're just winging it. Rarely do you have something very black and white upon which you can rely. You can argue one statement -- even a seemingly definitive one -- a hundred different ways. How it comes out depends mostly on who you are, who you are arguing against, and who you are arguing before. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that you sound like you are right when you are arguing it. Sounding rational and logical and calmly assertive can make the most ridiculous argument work. Or at least not get you laughed out of court.
It made answering the other guys a snap today. My motion to dismiss was basically, "Here's what they are trying to do. Here's what this court said about doing it: NO. Please make them go away. Thank you." It just went out in today's mail so I don't know if they'll gracefully bow out after receiving it, but I sure hope so.
Reminds me of the time I got audited by the IRS over my student loan interest deduction. I was in deferment for several years, and during that time your interest gets capitalized. IRS regs, in an extremely, extremely rare moment of clarity, say you can deduct capitalized interest. They actually use it as an example. Again, extremely, extremely rare for the IRS to be so clear. My former lender does not believe capitalized interest qualifies for the deduction, consequently they do not include those amounts on whatever form it is they have to provide you with. This can be thousands of dollars of interest that you are not considering in calculating the deduction. I read the pamphlet on the topic, realized the error, and amended three prior years of tax returns. I think I got back about $1,000 as a result. Then I got audited, along with one of those bills for additional tax due plus a couple zillion percent interest tacked on top. I sent the IRS a letter saying "Your regs say I can do this. Here is where they say that. Please make your bill with its absurd rate of interest go away. Thank you."
I learned a long time ago that I had to stand up for myself or nobody else would. The IRS sent a nice, short letter back saying that I was correct and that they would go away. Reading between the lines, the letter was more of a "Thank you for not using profanity, anthrax, feces, and/or crayon in your response to us. We truly appreciate it." They may have not even checked to see if I was correct in my argument.
So, long story long, I'm having a good day. I think the only other profession that this really translates to is medicine. You figure out or cure the ailment when no one else can, a la House. In the business world, maybe it's akin to catching an error that would have cost your company a whole lot of money or even embarrasment. That happens in law too; I remember a legal secretary in my old firm caught an error -- challenging a paralegal who was convinced the legal secretary was wrong, which is a huge no-no in the legal field -- that had it not been caught would have cost the firm nearly half a million in legal fees. She was a total rock star.
Gosh, this kind of makes law sound like fun. Okay, fine, maybe it kind of is. At least how I do it. I know a lot of lawyers who bemoan that they aren't able to use their creative side in this field. I disagree. Law gives me complete freedom to be as creative as I want, to say anything and do anything I can come up with.
As long as I sound good doing it. Almost like this blog. :)
*Trick question; there is none. We all adhere to the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land because -- get this -- we all say it is. Nothing says we have to. We just do it. Blows your mind, yeah? Took me six weeks of Constitutional Law to figure it out and I was the first one in the class to get it. Because I am awesome.