Attorney Reeves or: How I Learned to Stop Settling and Love the Trial

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Tomorrow, I’ll attend a memorial service for Leigh Reeves, the attorney for whom I worked my first several years of practicing law when I was a naive, fresh-out-of-school attorneylet.  It occurred to me tonight while running that I never thanked her for all she taught me in the three years we worked together.

Thank you for being such a great “bad cop.”  When we represented a trucking company against a pro se claimant who thought it his mission in life to call our firm daily and rant about the Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act, insurance companies, his doctors, his former attorney, and our firm, you had the bright idea to start playing “good cop, bad cop” with him:  I answered the phone and calmly placate him, while you told him to “Go to Hell.”  It worked perfectly until you called me as a witness at the hearing to testify against him, and he became so angry that the Judge ordered us to go downstairs for ADR instead.  This also would’ve been fine, had he not tried to bring a knife into the mediation.

Thank you for the career advice I didn’t follow.  When I seemed concerned about compensation, you gave me a speech about loving the law and not practicing law just for the money it can potentially pay.  You told me that if I was “only interested in money,” I should become a stockbroker.  Thank God I didn’t follow that advice in 2006.

Thanks for the real estate advice.  When I voiced my excitement over a new development near my home that included a grocery store with handy wipes for cleaning the buggy handles, you encouraged me by saying, “You should move to the suburbs.  In Cobb County, our Kroger doesn’t need to have handy wipes by the buggies.  Everyone’s clean.”

Thanks for the heart-felt congratulations.  When I told you I’d eloped, you said, “Well damn!  Let’s talk when I’m not so busy.”

Thanks for the parenting advice.  When I told you about enjoying helping with bath time every night, you told me about your recent conversation with your son during bath time:

Son:  “Is ‘shit’ a bad word?”
You:  “Yes, son.”
Son:  “Is ‘son of a bitch’?”
You:  “Yes, son, we don’t say that, either.”
Son:  “What about motherfucker?”
You:  “Definitely.”

Thanks for your empathy.  When my face showed stress at work, you told me, “Smile, Michael.  Life sucks right now, but smile anyway.”

Thanks for your confidence.  When I failed to get a first set hearing postponed, you reacted by saying, “I’m not driving to Augusta to try the case.  Congratulations, you’re trying your first case in two days.”  When I said we didn’t have a reasonable defense, you told me to find one and not to give up.   You were right.  We won.  And we won every case we litigated together for the next three years.

Thanks for your ignorance.  When I talked about frustration with my younger sibling, you told me, “Well, I have a big sister who’s perfect like you–never got in trouble, always made good decisions in life.  Not everybody’s like that.”

Thanks for your faith.  When you walked into my office during the winter of 2006, closed the door, and told me you had cancer, you immediately reacted to my distraught expression with a hasty, “I’m not going to die!  I’m just going to have to leave early the next few Fridays and might be sick and weak the following Mondays.  Prayers are appreciated, but otherwise, nothing will change.”  And you were right, as far as we knew.  Every time I saw someone from your firm over the past several years, I’d confirm it was in remission and all was well.

Thanks for being the right mix of friend, mentor, supervisor, confidant, and coach.

Thanks for being a perfect example of the consummate professional.

You will be missed.



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