Thursday, June 10, 2004

Issue 3: Six Degrees of Val, the Rottweiler

I’ll skip directly to the weirdest story of the week. On Saturday, The Firm took us up into Sonoma for some wine tasting. At our second winery, I sat with a few other summer associates and some associates for lunch. An associate mentioned that the vineyard used to have a mascot dog (Wino) that passed away recently. I commented that, sadly, big dogs have a shorter life span, and mentioned that my friends had rescued a Rottweiler named Val when she was 6. One of the associate’s wives said "Val? Rottweiler?" and gave me the weirdest look. Then she said "Minneapolis???", to which I said "Um, yes." As it turns out, one of my best friends from college is married to the associate’s cousin. (Tyler: I work with Max’s cousin Gabe – how weird is that?) Melanie (the wife) was especially weirded out because she had been telling Gabe that I reminded her of Max (the cousin in question.) Apparently, we have the same laugh. So, there you go - Val the Rottweiler, bringing people together.

Back to the wine trip: My mentor Heidi grew up in wine country, so she really, really knows her stuff. The wineries had amazing tasting rooms – patios covered in wisteria, gardens, fountains with lily pads. I’m not sure that it put people in a wine-buying mood, but it was relaxing. The weather was perfect, the views were amazing. We all joked that if the law thing didn’t work out, we’d go into winemaking, but the truth of it is that I could skip the wine-producing thing, I just want the views of the hills…or maybe just the patio.

So that’s the end of the week, back to the beginning. I went to a mock jury exercise, sounds thrilling I know. Basically, a jury consulting firm hires people to come in and hear attorneys from the same side present both sides of the case (no witnesses, no actual evidence, no objections, etc.). We watch the whole thing from behind one-way glass (is that what it’s called? What I mean is: we can see them, but from their side it looks like a mirror.) I felt kind of bad at times, one woman kept turning around to check/apply makeup using the mirror. Because of the way the observation room was set up, this woman was literally applying lipstick about 6 inches from a partner’s face. As he said, it really felt like an invasion of privacy. Then, the jury deliberates (and we get to watch!) Lessons learned: juries are irrational ("The plaintiff asked for $3.2 billion, let’s give them half!"), take hold of things that no one said, and apply current events "creatively" ("That guy Arthur Andersen was indicted in this case.") I loved, loved, loved going to this exercise. It made me really excited about becoming a lawyer, and getting into litigation. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time this summer for me to lose that feeling (if law school is any indicator) and become jaded, cynical and bitter.

Those are the two big things for this week. Coming attractions: The Firm’s CEO is having us over for dinner on Friday night (eek!), and I’ll be spending this weekend finally figuring out Palo Alto (lots of driving, lots of getting lost – that kind of thing.)

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