Junior Partner


Wipe that silly grin off your face, because this is serious; plan your closing argument before you do anything else; practice in front of a mirror, looking directly into the jurors’ eyes; modulate your voice, because you don’t want to put everyone to sleep; pause for dramatic effect; make them anticipate what you’re about to say, then spring the point on them in a sharp, memorable way; stay well hydrated, but don’t drink too much water just before court starts; keep your mind on what’s happening in front of you, not your need to visit the rest room; but I can’t plan a closing argument when I don’t even know all the facts yet; develop all the graphics yourself; don’t rely on the so-called artists who’ve never stood up in front of a jury; use Power Point but not too much; when you sit at counsel table, keep everything well organized, not like the haphazard disarray in front of the plaintiff’s lawyer; remind your team that everything that happens in a courtroom is evidence; make sure your shoes are highly shined with the shoelaces not excessively long, because you don’t want them to catch under the wheel of your chair; wear blue ties if you think most of your jurors are Democrats, red if Republican, and switch off every day if you have no clue; ignore what the jury consultant tells you, because they’re wrong more often than they’re right, and you know that the psychologists are the ones who couldn’t get into med school; but why do we hire them in that case?; this is how to carefully set up a cross-examination notebook so that you can be spontaneous; this is how to fake sincerity; this is how to sit in the war room when court is not in session, so that your subordinates feel you are one of them, but keep your earphones on and listen to Leonard Bernstein and the Beatles so you don’t hear everyone chatting; this is how to ignore e-mails from your partners who want to micromanage your case; this is how to prepare a daily report for the clients so they can prepare a daily report to their bosses who have to submit a daily report to the CEO; this is how to preserve deniability; this is how to make the judge seem like an idiot as well as a tyrant, and don’t worry because everyone will believe you; this is how to talk to your wife every morning so as not to make her fear for your sanity; but what if the trial is going poorly, I’m not getting enough sleep, my insides are twisted, and I feel I’m about to pass out?; — you are not the junior partner anymore, you know, because I’m out of here, so take charge and be a leader — this is how you take a Valium to stop your hands from shaking and your voice from cracking; this is how you use propranolol to subdue your high blood pressure and get the green look off your face; this is how you pace the hallway as you pull yourself together; this is how you pray; this is how you wipe that silly grin off your face. (with thanks to Jamaica Kinkaid’s “Girl”)

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About brucejberger

Bruce J. Berger has published his short fiction in a variety of print and on-line literary journals, including Prole, Jersey Devil Press Anthology, The Awakenings Review, Raphael's Village, Eastown Fiction, Black Magnolias Literary Journal, and others. He also publishes shorts stories for Amazon's Kindle. He is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at American University beginning in August 2015.
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