A Very Personal Comment

So I am working on my son's school's fundraiser, they are a new school and they haven't had a parent-led fundraiser ever. It's such a unique and special place and I really want to help it thrive. I am so grateful for what my son experiences there, and, truly, what I experience there. I have met some really wonderful people - wise, complex, artistic, insightful, kind and loving people. Being around them makes me rethink everything I had come to believe in the last decade. Their practice of Christianity is profoundly alive in all their interaction, a serenity and a loving kindness.

And here I am. The problem with unleashing former Skadden litigation associates on the world is a big one. We were successful in litigation a lot of other lawyers wouldn't take on, because we didn't act like a lot of other lawyers. We were paranoid, obsessive and we overreacted to everything. This is in part because were in hyperdrive as humans, all sleep deprived almost all the time, and we were thinking about nothing but the trial, not about relationships or about our lives but only about the case. Other lawyers called Skadden The Death Star. I would like to think that is because we usually won, but it may in fact have something to do with the fact that many of us acted like Darth Vader.

For, you see, Darth Vader was very successful. In litigation, all of these vices in fact create virtues. Paranoids do not miss anything. They assume the absolute worst about everything that happens, and sometimes their assumptions are correct. In those worst case scenarios, a paranoid person can really shine. And if the judge has hauled you back into chambers on a whim to make you spit out your damages case, you are well prepared if, as an obsessive, you read and reread the facts of the case until they were part of the fabric of your being. And then, the overreaction: we had thought through every contingency. We had a plan to get from where we were to victory and it absorbed our every waking moment and every neural circuit in our brains. And when we deviated from that plan, it was all kinds of bad news. Every type of manipulation was warranted to succeed in your cause. I remember my secretary marching in my office one day when a big brief was due and calmly announcing that she would not ride the emotional rollercoaster with me on this one. (Truth: Life with me is kind of an emotional rollercoaster, I am Rachel Mariner) The secretary was this Jewish lesbian who was raised in South Africa, left because of apartheid and became an incredibly enlightened Buddhist cat worshipper. One day, after two back-to-back trials in Paducah, Kentucky and Luxembourg, I started crying when I couldn't get the printer to work. I was so tired. I was so spent. She, a constant, caring presence in my life told me to JUST GO HOME, and I did. In some ways, my life started at that moment.

A year later I met Rhys and then I went off to have a normal life, and interact with normal people who had not been paid for a decade to foster mental illness. And those poor normal people! And here I am organizing a charity auction and lately a mock trial and working with them and I bring the drama. I get results, but I do bring the drama.

I apologize for these jarring aspects of my character. I apologize for the zero-to-sixty killer instinct. My brain has been trained in an adversarial system.


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