I agree: In praise of lawyers? Really? Who am I kidding? I can and often do quote Shakespeare from Henry VI, Part 2: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” And I have always chuckled at random lawyer jokes, somehow feeling it is okay to pick on that group, even if I do not appreciate dumb blond jokes or poking fun at other groups. But, right now, I do appreciate lawyers and definitely one lawyer in particular: Robert M. Ostrove, Ventura, California.
Let me explain:
For the last three years I have been mired in a lawsuit. When the whole business started, I sought a lawyer for input, since if I followed the advice being given me by human resources, I would have been committing fraud. Through my lawyer, an EEOC claim was filed, but we decided to move forward on our own because the two years that investigation was expected to take would just be too long. [Yes, I realize the irony of that decision!] With that decision made, my lawyer started working on my case, even taking the work on a contingency basis when typically he did not do such things. He felt my claim truly had merit. So for three years he took no salary from my case and even covered the expenses that were mounting up. So why do I appreciate Robert? He took my case.
And then he began delving into all the details of the case. He collected discovery documents while waiting through months and months of delays. He took depositions—again after months and months of delays—and returned for additional rounds when the witness was not prepared. He wondered as I did how a doctor could refuse to let a patient bring someone into the examination room with her, when she was literally standing right there at the door. When my depression and frustration took over, he would listen and calm me down, reminding me that it was his job to fight the fight. Oh sure, there were times when I wished he was quicker to respond—how dare he have other clients and cases actually in the courtroom ahead of mine! So why do I appreciate Robert? He stood up for me.
Just last month, we finally settled the case a little over three years from when we started. As my lawyer kept reminding me, an effective settlement is one where no one is fully satisfied and everyone winces just a little. He kept reminding me that the trial—still over half a year away if there were no more delays—would not necessarily bring me what I really wanted. See, I wanted justice. I wanted to know why people were telling lies about me. [That they were telling lies was supported in the discovery documents and depositions.] I also wanted to know why supervisors did not step in to question what was happening, come to my defense by at least looking into the situation, or do something to help someone who had always been a good team player. I wanted a public apology. In truth, I wanted to have some key people publically flogged on the campus quad. Through all that, my lawyer would calmly remind me what was possible—and kept looking to what would realistically make me whole. So why do I appreciate Robert? He took care of me.
The settlement was not ideal, but it did essentially make me whole for what was taken from me over the last three years. I am not back in that job, but as I watched how the campus was changing and was contemplating working again with some of the same people who exposed themselves as liars in their depositions, I did not want to go back there. I wish I had gotten enough to make up for what I will miss into the future through better retirement income based on longer years of service, and I wish I had gotten enough to make a large donation to the district earmarked for training in such topics as “Ethics in the Workplace” especially for human resources personnel. But I did get enough to not have to declare bankruptcy and to get my bills—those pesky bills that have not been paid in three years—sorted out. So why do I appreciate Robert? He helped me address my faltering finances.
And, finally, the reality of the settlement gave me a great sense of relief. More than I imagined would be the case. I could breathe again, I could smile again, I could go on vacation again. I had not realized how the weight of this whole ugly situation had worn me down and had re-established my sense of normal as some dark and dreary reality clouded over by this legal matter. Once the problem was gone, the feeling of relief was palpable. I can now not only pay some bills, but I can make plans for the future more secure that I can turn my plans into reality. So why do I appreciate Robert? He helped me feel victorious.
All of those good feelings are thanks to my lawyer, Robert M. Ostrove. There is no way I could have lasted three years or gotten to a sense of victory if I had stayed fighting on my own. And my lawyer? Far from the greedy stereotype, he took his contingency fee based on the cash portion of the settlement only, not on the other factors that in truth he was entitled too. All in all, he got paid a little less than half of what he was owed for services rendered. He even made some provisions in the settlement language to save me a bit on taxes. It does not feel like enough, but I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my lawyer. I owe him so much in terms of my sanity and continued belief in honesty and integrity, even if others in the world do not practice those traits.
So, thanks, Robert! I cannot promise that I will never laugh at another lawyer joke. But I do promise that in my heart I will know any such jokes do not apply to you.
JOKES I NO LONGER REALLY FIND FUNNY!
Q: What’s wrong with lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyer’s don’t think they’re funny, and other people don’t think they’re jokes.
Minister & Lawyer in Heaven
A minister and a lawyer arrived at the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter greeted both of them and gave them their room assignments.
“Pastor, here are the keys to one of our nicest efficiency units. And for you, sir, the keys to our finest penthouse suite.”
“This is unfair!” cried the minister.
“Listen,” Saint Peter said, “ministers are a dime a dozen up here, but this is the first lawyer we’ve ever seen.”
A Reasonable Fee
A man phones a lawyer and asks, “How much would you charge for just answering three simple questions?”
The lawyer replies, “A thousand dollars.”
“A thousand dollars!” exclaims the man. “That’s very expensive, isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” says the lawyer. “Now, what’s your third question?”
SO—WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH LAWYERS?
DO YOU LAUGH AT THE JOKES?
IS THERE A LAWYER SOMEWHERE THAT YOU APPRECIATE?