(Marital) Home Wrecker

Bitter Contributor Columns, Lawyer

For today’s “The Best of the Bitter: 2009,” we’re revisiting the three most popular associate abuse pieces from the last year.  “(Marital) Home Wrecker” was the winner, followed by “Bageled” and “Does No Legal Analysis.”

I worked on a large, involved divorce case for over a year. It was my full-time job. I came in and spoke with the client every single day (day in, day out).

She cried (and cried, and cried), and I listened. She demanded things, and I jumped. I made memos. I reported every phone call in a memo and presented it to the partner. I knew every time she and her husband had sex. I knew every minute of their 35-year marriage. I received boxes and boxes of documents—most of them poems to herself and journal entries that had absolutely no relevancy to the case at all. I carefully labeled all the documents. I drafted all motions, all correspondence. I appeared in court at least 10 times on the matter. I worked and worked and worked.

One of the things this client demanded was not only my time, but the partner’s too. He and I met with her at least four hours a week.

For one particular meeting, I was told to bring everything. (Really?  Just getting all the boxes into the conference room took 30 minutes.) When I got there, the partner wanted to “see her notes on the marital home.” Sure thing. I opened the file labeled “Marital Home.” I looked. I could not find them.

Panic began to rise. I had them! I remember seeing them! I started looking in all the other folders. Instead of bailing me out by saying, “Oh, we will just find them later,” the partner and the client just kept staring at me as I fumbled around for them. The client finally tried to help me out, but the partner said, “No, let’s see if she can find them.”

Humiliation at its finest. Maybe 18 minutes later, the partner finally relented. After the meeting, he went back to his office kicking and yelling and throwing things. The whole office knew the sins I had just committed.

This client fired us and to this day has never paid. I never received any lick of credit for the one-and-a-half years I worked for her. Now I know why her husband wanted to divorce her in the first place.

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