No Cognitive Defect XV

No Cognitive Defect - Part XV

By James M. O'Meara, © 2010

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Dangerous times...

It was one those split-second calls folks make by the dozens every day. Blue shirt or red? Potatoes with dinner, or rice? Park in this spot, or that one? It is inevitable that sooner or later one of these choices is life-changing. It is the seeming innocuousness of these little decisions that belies their power.

In Wilson's case, as he left the coffee shop on his way to the office, the decision was which way to walk to work: to the left or to the right. To the right made more sense, as it was closer, but he didn't like walking into a breeze. He turned left. He would have to walk an extra block or so, but he could cut through a market and avoid the wind. Had he turned right, the rest of his life would have unfolded in a radically different fashion. True, he would not have found himself on the verge of freezing to death in a blizzard years later, but there also would have been no marriage, no Evan, no Anita to save. An entirely different existence; all because the wind was blowing from the west and he wanted it at his back.

As he walked, the wind occasionally blew his long hair into his eyes, and he would run his hands through it and toss it back behind his ears. They were still getting used to his hair at Garfield & Garfield. He was called "the hippy" by some partners and clients. His being a partner, and an equity partner at that, was an enormous responsibility. He owned a piece of the company and a share of the profits, but he was also exposed to losses. It was a very rare year indeed when the firm lost money, but it was always a possibility. With the responsibilities came a degree of freedom. He could pick and choose his clients, kicking cases that didn't appeal to him down to an associate of the firm. He could grow his hair as long as he wished and the other partners could only grumble, because Wilson was Garfield & Garfield's sacred cash cow. When he added a neatly trimmed beard to the mix a few months earlier, they grumbled a little louder, and he enjoyed that immensely.

Wilson was no fool. In court, he tied his hair back in a ponytail and wore well-pressed expensive suits (he'd found that neatness was the key in front of judges). So far he'd received nothing more than mild criticism or occasional rebukes from judges in the courtroom, but they, too, tolerated him because his work was masterful. He never …never …made serious tactical errors in a courtroom. Even minor mistakes were exceedingly rare. He knew how to work a jury, how to put the most complex legal issues in plain English without sounding condescending: Absolute right of use for property? "…Your neighbor can't plop a nuclear reactor in his backyard, even a teeny-tiny one, just because he owns the land and thinks he can do whatever he wants with it. He can't do anything on his property that might harm his neighbors or his community, or hurts their quality of life. No one has absolute right of use."

Juries loved him. He won cases. He made piles of money for the firm. He'd wear his hair any way he saw fit, because unless he damaged the firm financially or committed malpractice they were stuck with him.

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