Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Afternoon

Can there possibly be anything more pleasant than a quiet Friday afternoon at the office! It helps, I have no doubt, that we have been exceedingly occupied both this morning and until mid-afternoon, and now I am able to gloat by celebrating the unexpected though thoroughly welcome surge of commercial activity and the reward of having successfully prosecuted the work at hand (especially as it involved that almost funereal business called corporate law, for which I have always thought a lawyer with perfectly white hands and manicured nails is so extremely well suited).

This morning involved some false starts, which we have since rectified, and I have arranged with the Clients to re-attend later this afternoon to conclude what we began earlier today. In both instances, the enquiries involved litigation matters (one an insolvency, the other a civil claim) about which I advised my Clients in the strongest of terms I have no expertise, but in their collective desire to avoid having to engage Counsel, I was consulted to do what they characterized as merely notarizing their signatures on the documents they had prepared (though of course my cursory review of their handiwork disclosed a myriad of things requiring change). It is not unusual for Clients to imagine that, if I am a lawyer, I am competent to opine on any legal question, no matter how far afield from my general practice. Even when I explain the limitation, they nonetheless persist in expounding upon the subject in the hopes of extracting from me an opinion, which I abruptly inform them they will never get no matter how casual they profess to be in their discussion of the matter. Even then it is sometimes difficult to withdraw from the session.

As anxious as I am to enjoy the upcoming weekend (which thankfully is not already jammed with commitments), the day will not end until close to 6:30 p.m. this evening, as I have arranged to meet a young couple at the house to sign some documents. They have several children, they work long hours, and it is always difficult for them to get a baby-sitter. Because they are as anxious as I am to conclude our business, the interruption should not significantly delay the hoisting of the crystal tumbler.

Sadly I was visited this afternoon by an elderly woman who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Of course she hadn’t made an appointment, and she rambled far and wide about the unfortunate events which surrounded the enquiries she put to me. Having encountered similar circumstances before, I was able to parry her successive jabs fairly well. More importantly, I wanted to deal with the relatively inconsequential concerns in a way which might bring her some peace, rather than strengthening her resolve in pursuing what to me is clearly a wasted effort. It is surprising how cogent her arguments appeared on the surface, yet it required only the most trifling cross-examination to cause her case to wither. She was never able to provide any retort to a pointed question. Soon, however, the issue was dropped, as she seemed to lose the thread in her own confused state, and then I pressed to do whatever I could to distract her mind from the unpleasantness which had prompted her visit in the first place. When I first encountered a similar situation years ago, I recall being quite taken aback by the allegations being advanced, as I had no idea whatever that the lady was slowing losing her mind. As is so often the case, the accusations are frequently directed at a spouse, which naturally makes one’s concern even more acute. Often the uncomfortable meeting is only later resolved upon meeting with a member of the family, who explains what is going on. As a stranger to the family, however, one’s initial discernment is far less critical.

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