Saturday, April 9, 2011

In The War Room

After my human rights class today, I went to my law professor, supervising my case. She had a nice smile as we saw each other. We walked into her office together.

And in my imagination - the office transformed into the War Room. Incidentally, I was wearing the Nintendo Sweatshirt. It's been cold in LA today. And everyone appears to comment on it. She did too - "Nintendo-boy" my professor said.

As I sat close to her, we started discussing the legal and political strategy in suing the City. I really felt like she was an old hand, maester, / general. I was the young soldier, learning, inexperienced, and full of energy. We went through the details of the media strategy first. Then we discussed the litigation strategy.

I said, "You know - they'll probably make a motion to dismiss."

She said, "Well, if you know that, write the case against yourself."

I thought, well Sun Tze did once say, "If you understand neither the enemy or yourself you will always lose. If you understand only yourself, for every battle you win you will lose one. If you understand the enemy and yourself, you will always win." So, this is what she was saying to me. See the world through the enemies eyes.

Incidentally, my mother always told me that her line came from the General Yi line of Korean Generals. General Yi defeated the Japanese during the Japanese-Korean naval battles. His secret was to understand Sun Tze's Art of War and follow it precisely at sea. He actually built turtle ships, which stood the assaults of the Japanese. It was my turn to learn Sun Tze.

However, I was so focused on my strongest argument, I couldn't think of the other side. I said, "Professor help me think of the counter."

And what unfolded next felt like my days in the judo training with my old Sensei. My old Sensei was vicious. She would slam me against the floor. She would pound my head against the mat, straddle my back, and strangle me until I almost passed out. In time, I got better at fighting. One thing in particular I always remembered, was how she would drop all her weight against the sternum of my chest. It felt like someone punched you. So painful! I would say, "It hurts." She would say, "That's right! Always make the enemy be in an uncomfortable position."

It was the same, somewhat here. My Professor played the party of the city and the war games began. The Brilliant master threw out very compelling arguments. Yet, I retorted back with the counter arguments I could think of equally as quick. She smiled and said, "Good! Good!" And so the training battle continued - setup - attack - counter - rebuttal. My attack, the counter - her rebuttal. I knew I was growing from that 1L, who would be deadly afraid of playing this game with a mastered professor. Now, it was a game to play in jest and in seriousness.

Then, my Master says - what case was that. I said I sent it to you. She looked in her email. I swore I sent it to her. But we couldn't find it. I said, "I'll send it again." She smirked, "You're the perfect litigator. To add the word 'again' when you never sent it in the first place." We both laughed. Maybe, I brought it to you in person? Which, I think I actually did.

She ended by saying - you know where the weaknesses are. Go prepare for them. Send me your Press Release next week. And, don't forget to send me that case.

I left her office. That was a refreshing way to be trained I thought. It was the old blood training the new blood.

I then saw my Human Rights Professor. We discussed my research project. I imagined, if this was ancient Korea - I would be riding a horse across the snow and blizzard travelling from one of the three ancient kingdoms to the next. This journey would all be in the pursuit of military knowledge and secrets. However, here, I just walked across to the next building.

We discussed my research topic. It will be looking at why female corrections staff rape juvenile male inmates. New data is out. Time to look at it. Interesting, aye?

Afterwards, I walked to the law library. I went to the second floor, where I met my Taiwanese mentee. He's like my younger brother. My lawyer assigned us a secret assignment. I asked him if he could help. He agreed - even though I knew he was also uber busy. I explained the facts of the case to him. I explained our theories. We both thumbed through the California Law amongst the pile of books. You could tell, the more he researched the more he got excited about the whole thing. He said, "It's much more fun when it's real."

I smiled, "Yeah, of course, especially when our clients are innocent." I thought about my lawyer, who gave us the assignment. She's going up against a whole team of lawyers. And there was a whole team - a sad rag-tag bunch of two little law students and her. I thought, God better be on our side.

They kicked us out of the library. It was closing time. We were in the Foyer together discussing the legal theories, defenses, affirmative defenses and strategies. A fellow law student of his overheard it all and asked, "Is this for class?!"

I retorted, "No, this is the real deal. We're part of a team for our clients. We need to win."

I walked Alex to the bus stop. I could see his mind was still working on the defenses. I thought, this guy is going to be thinking about all this for awhile. We too, played the game of argument, counter argument, and rebuttal before he had to leave. Ultimately, it would help him think through the issues better for his research.

My mind was working on everything that happened today from male sexual victims to suing the City to this. I felt like my head was going to explode. So, I took a run for four miles. Somehow, it calmed me down only a little.

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