I’ve had this thought for a little while now that I kind of wanted to share what I do for a living. Maybe a job like mine is old news and no one is interested in what I do, but I guess I’m finding it kind of interesting right now, so it is probably a good time for me to talk a bit about it.
So, to simplify things as much as possible, I’m currently a self-employed attorney that works exclusively for a litigation firm based out of Huntington Beach, California remotely from my home in San Francisco, California. The independent contractor stuff is really just a tax arrangement. My business cards all read that I am an associate with the law firm. The law firm is very small. I am the only associate that does litigation. There are others that work on patent prosecution, which I am not licensed and have no desire to touch.
There are two partners. One partner works primarily out of Huntington Beach. He does litigation work, as well as patent prosecution (meaning he files patents-a very specialized type of attorney), and trademark registration. I work on his litigation and trademark work. The other partner works primarily out of Pennsylvania and does only civil litigation. I work on all his cases.
When I’m doing the trademark stuff, I’m generally responding to the Trademark Office about why our client’s trademark should be allowed. This is a lot of fun for me. I get to make very grandiose arguments about “art” and “value” and all sorts of other flowery stuff. I generally do research on cases that have come before on similar topics and use that research to build the bones of my response. It is sort of like doing a book report when you were in high school. I would go through the book and pick my quotations from the book and then lay them out in a logical order and fill the rest in with my “argument”. Instead of quotations from books, lawyers use quotations from previous case rulings to build our arguments. I liked doing it in high school and I like doing it now. A really nice day at work from me-honestly, the best I could hope for-is a day dedicated to a Trademark Office response where no one from the office and no clients call me. 🙂
Litigation work is something I never thought I’d be doing. I’m only really cut out for part of it, if you want my opinion. So, in litigation, it is kind of like there are two stories happening at the same time. Running simultaneously is the saga of the opposing party’s lawyers doing their jobs and the game of getting the upper hand and the story of of the actual case. Leading up to a trial (or a settlement if you’re smart), both sides spend a lot of time and energy trying to collect evidence and keep the other side from being able to collect evidence. It’s not even that you have something to hide, necessarily, because the other party WILL get the information eventually. It is gamesmanship. The way you play is with objections and motions to compel. Objections are used to keep from having to divulge information and a motion to compel is a paper on why that party should have to divulge said information to you. There is a bunch of other papers that may get written in between and tons of correspondence. I write all that junk. I don’t mind writing that stuff. It is not very creative, but it isn’t difficult to recite law and facts. The correspondence with the opposing party’s attorney is what I’m not crazy about. I just don’t like the game. I’m not a contentious person. I don’t have like anger stored up inside of me for which my job can act as some kind of release. I prefer not to get angry and try not to be annoyed, so dealing with another lawyer whose sole objective is to annoy you is really counterproductive to that goal. I always dread it. Luckily, as the junior person on the team, I’m not asked to do as much of the talking. I prefer to stay behind the scenes.
The other story in litigation is the one of actually trying the case. So once the two sides gather all their evidence, they start composing briefs, which are the longest of the papers. This is like writing a paper in college, so it is a little harder than high school conceptually, but same basic concept, right? You take the evidence you have and make it tell a story. In between that evidence, you weave your argument. You end up with a story from your client’s perspective that is supported by the evidence.
I work on all of these types of matters simultaneously. Right now I am in an evidence phase war in a case and writing a trial brief for that same case. I wouldn’t mind doing some trademark work once this long brief is over.
In my case, when I’m doing writing or reading over lots of evidence, I like to be in my bed. Sometimes I have the cat next to me. If I need a larger screen or am conducting any calls, I use my office in the other room. I usually do have a call every day. I’m the luckiest in that I can do my job in my most comfortable place. There are times when I sort of enjoy it. A typical day for me will have me working from my bed, my office, and the couch in the living room. I like to mix it up.
I see myself doing this for a while because it allows me the flexibility to have hours more aligned with Max’s. I can go out with him on a Monday night and not have to worry about being bright eyed and bushy tailed super early Tuesday morning. I may not even shower if I’m not feeling it 🙂 I also think that, while ideally I’d like to be a full-time mom to my eventual children, this is a good option for me if I’m working during that time. So, for me, it is a good situation.
Ok. Hope you enjoyed learning about trademark actions and civil litigation. I can’t imagine a more exciting topic, really.