Today I found myself in a meeting with a prospective client’s family discussing handling a direct appeal in the Supreme Court of Georgia. The family is very organized and proactive and already had the trial transcript ready to go. To make things even better, trial counsel was present in the meeting to discuss things with me.
I caught myself doing what I always do when I have a meeting and the client brings in the transcript. I started flipping through the pages while people were talking. A trial transcript is akin to a big wrapped present with a bow on it. And it’s hard not to read one when it is in front of me.
I think success in the law, particularly in criminal appellate law requires a bit of compulsion. As I thought about how tempting it was to read that transcript, I was reminded of a blog post I read yesterday by David Benowitz on his DC Criminal Lawyer Blog. In the post, Mr. Benowitz compared being a criminal defense lawyer to being avid about his fantasy football team. The same level of compulsion, call it nerdiness, that drives him to obsess about the stats of player in meaningless games is kind of like what it takes to be great at being a lawyer. Bottom line, it is about care for the process and for the client. Mr. Benowitz writes:
So how does loving fantasy football equate to criminal defense work? Fantasy football is about the love of the game, but it is also about being a bit compulsive. I say that as I sit screaming at my 52″ screen for Austin Collie, who I started over Steve Smith, to please score the next touchdown in a meaningless Week 3 Colts/Broncos late game. Unless you’re waking up at 3:00 am to write down the idea you had about your possession of marijuana case, unless you’re idea of a fun Saturday night is to see clients at the jail, unless you bring new Court of Appeals opinions to read at the beach on vacation, you need more passion.
And so I found myself so interested in what may lie within a transcript on a case where I have not yet been hired because, in my nerdy way, it’s hard not to try to figure out what issues lie within a transcript.
Hopefully, the family thought I was eager and not rude.