True life stories

The privilege of being able to say goodbye


Jan was married to her childhood sweetheart.  She made his favorite sandwich.  Was getting ready to leave for his jobsite.  So they could have a noon picnic in the car.  Phone rang. There had been a work accident.  Charlie was dead.  Jan never got to say goodbye.

Irene and Paul were both widowed when they fell in love and married.  One day he got into his favorite car and headed to the hardware store.  Bought a few items.    Just a few blocks before he reached home, a novice driver crossed the center line.  Paul was dead.  Irene never got to say goodbye.

Sharon and her youngest daughter were visiting Seattle.  Walking on the sidewalk at 5th and Pike downtown.  A driver lost control of his car.  Went up onto the sidewalk.  Striking mother and daughter.  Sharon was dead.  Her husband and children never got to say goodbye.

These stories are my clients’ stories.  They haunt me.  And have taught me.

We need to assume that our loved ones will be alive by the time we next see them.  We need to be positive.  To take life for granted – to a certain extent.  Because if we only dwelled upon death and dying, we would greatly diminish our ability to live life fully.

Yet in an instant everything can change.

In the case of traumatic death the survivors not only are grieving the loss of their loved ones.  Or worrying whether they suffered pain.  The survivors are replaying their last moments together.  Maybe they hugged before they parted that day.  Maybe they didn’t.  Maybe they blew kisses.  Or quarreled as all families do.  Almost everyone wishes they could replay and rewrite that last ending.  Hug longer.  Kiss better.  Smile and not quarrel.  Sometimes the wish to change that ending causes great survivor guilt.

On a Monday two weeks ago, my oldest dear friend (from Kindergarten) called:

Liz: did you hear about Bonita.

K3:  No.

Liz:  I heard from someone who saw something on facebook that she is terminally ill.

K3:  I will find out what’s going on.

And so, I investigated and eventually discovered that she had been recently diagnosed with the most aggressive form of brain cancer that is known to science.  Her best friend Kimber said that Bonita underwent surgery.  Had lost significant brain function.  Was in a skilled nursing facility in Fairfax Virginia.  Awaiting the end.

K3:  How long.

Kimber:  They say she may make it to Christmas.

K3:  I am going to come see her.

Kimber:  When.

K3: I will need to clear my schedule but hopefully in two weeks.

Kimber:  okay.

All I could do for the rest of the day was think of Bonita.  That night sitting at the kitchen table with Steven, started looking up flights on expedia.  Could take a red eye after teaching class Saturday.  Get in Sunday and leave Sunday night to be back in time for work Monday.  Booked the flight.  Messaged Kimber.

K3:  I’ve decide to come this Sunday instead.  The sooner the better.

Kimber:  great.

And so, that’s what happened.  Was able to see Bonita.  Hug her.  Show her pictures.  Kiss her.  Sit with her.  Help her eat a little.  Smile and laugh with her.  Hold her hand.  Tell her stories.  Reminisce.  Even though at first she couldn’t quite remember who I was.

It was a privilege to be able to be with her one last time.  And to say goodbye in person.

Photo:  Beautiful Bonita when I last saw her during a stop over in Washington DC.





A reminder about open flames: a story of how I almost became Michael Jackson


The house is beautiful and glowing.  Am standing with back to fully enclosed gas fireplace.  Getting warm.  Talking to Steven who is sitting by the chess board.

Fzzzzzzzzz.  Crackle.

He jumps up running toward me.  Hits at my head.

Turn around to see behind me.  Whaaaaaaaat.

My hair has gotten long lately.  Down to the middle of my back.  Yesterday when we were at Umi Sake House, Alysha told me it was time for a cut.

This evening it is in a pony tail.

Reach up and can feel charcoal pieces here and there mainly near the bottom.

The pretty little tea light candles centered on the fireplace mantel had caught my hair on fire.

Steven says that he saw two flames shooting up about a foot behind me.

Am glad couldn’t see that.

Start to wander around.  Go upstairs to look at damage in bathroom mirror.  Little pieces flake out and a few clumps collect in the basin.

Text the girls the carnage in the sink.  Take another picture to show them hair is still mostly intact.

Yuck.  Says Noelle.

I told you you needed a haircut.  Says Alysha.

Get the vacuum.

Open the doors even though it is 40 outside.

Can’t get rid of the acrid smell.

Shampoo twice.

Whack at hair with scissors to make sure it is mainly straight across at the bottom.

It could have been much worse.

Photo:  Hair after fire – minus about 6″ on the right side.



Use a kennel; save your dog’s life


Am reading the police report on a new case:

T told me he had a dog in the vehicle. I checked and located a brown

lab type dog on the rear passenger floorboard. The dog was not

breathing and I could not feel a heartbeat. I asked SFD E31 to check the

dog too. there did not appear to be any signs of life in the dog.

We don’t leave our children unsecured in cars for the same reasons we shouldn’t let our dogs roam freely.  We may like to cuddle with them. They may be happy as they crane their necks out the window.  But the second that vehicle is violently struck; the dog will go airborne and almost surely die.

Use a crate, or secure your dog with a chest (not neck!) harness clipped into existing seat belt hardware.

Graphic by Duane Hoffman.  Trial exhibit of a seriously injured back seat passenger.  Upon impact, the 80 pound dog was thrown into the front seat.  Her back broke and she and died.




The non-visitor: a story about never saying you’re sorry.


Walk up to door one.  Open and walk through.  Door two.  Push button.  It clicks.  Enter.  Write name and time on log at front desk.  Write name on tag and stick on shirt.  Cindy arrives and says hello.  Follow her down the linoleum covered hall.  Past the man in a wheelchair.  An open door reveals a woman in bed watching tv.  A hunched over man looks at me from another open door.   His leg is bandaged.   Walk towards the eating area where several others are congregated.  Mostly in wheelchairs.  Chatting.  Average age probably middle 70s.  Or older.

Reach Marissa’s room.  She is in a wheelchair.  A plastic toy drum on her lap.  Eyes closed.  Sleeping.  Next to her is Brianna, her sister.   When I first met Marissa she was 20 and Brianna was in the 4th grade.  Brianna is going to be a high school junior in the fall.  Cindy sits on the bed.

Marissa had just graduated from high school when she was struck head on by a teenager who crossed the center line.    Marissa’s car was pulverized.   And so was she.  The other teenager exited her vehicle unscathed.  We sued the car manufacturer and the negligent driver.  Years ago.

Marissa sleeps.  Cindy, Brianna and I talk.

Me:  Has the other driver ever visited.

Them:  No.

Me:  Have her parents.

Them:  No.

Me:  A phone call.

Them:  No.

Me:  A card.

Them.  No.

Me:  It is not for me to forgive.  Marissa is not my daughter.   And I believe in forgiveness.  But I do not understand how you can forgive someone who changed your daughter’s life and that of your entire family – who has never even said they are sorry.

Them:  We thought that they would.  We were waiting for it to happen and wondering if it would make us feel differently.  We believed it would.  But they never did.  And we have given up thinking that they ever will.  And we try not to think of it.

Me:  I mean, maybe the insurance company or their lawyer told them not to say sorry because that would mean they were at fault.  Maybe I could understand that.  But this case has been over for how long now.

Them:  It happened eight years ago and ended six years ago.

Me:  Yeah.  No excuse.

Them:  Can’t believe eight years have gone by.

Me:  It’s not just that Marissa will have to live in a nursing home for the rest of her life.  It affected your entire family.  Brianna spent so much of her childhood in this nursing home.  You still come here every day.  You have spent hours, days, weeks, months, years here.  And they have never said they are sorry.  It just makes me mad.

Them:  We see them sometimes out in the community and they never acknowledge us.

Me:  It was not intentional.  She was a young, inexperienced and bad driver.  That did not make her a bad person.  But if my child had wrecked a family, I would feel morally obligated to reach out to them – to let them know that I cared and was so sorry.

Them.  Us too.

Me:  I mean, send a card.  Do something.  Do anything.  Be a decent human being.

Them.  Yes.

Cindy gently shakes Marissa.  She opens her eyes.  Gets cleaned up.   We caravan down the linoleum halls.  Past another locked door with a buzzer.  Out to an empty courtyard.  In the beautiful spring weather.  Under a tree with a red robin’s nest.  Listening to the chirping.  Waving away the occasional bee.  As Marissa bangs on her drum.

Photo:  Marissa, Brianna and Cindy.



Ellie – the courthouse dog


Am resting on a sandy beach somewhere nice and warm.  Every so often someone gives me a tasty little treat and a sip of ice water.  The breeze gently rustles my fur.  Seagulls caw in the background.

Ellie – time to wake up, she says.

No. No.  Am in a wonderful place.  About to take a dip in the warm water.


Sigh.  Open one eye and look at her.    Her blond hair is in a pixie cut.  Eyes twinkle behind hip glasses.  Today she’s wearing a tailored gray pantsuit.  Quite mod and stylish.  She’s a prosecutor.  This means she puts bad people away.  To me she looks like Tinkerbell. Her name is Paige.

Come on Ellie we need to get going…

Get up as slowly as I can.  Make sure she knows how happy I was until her interruption.  Am wearing my snappy blue vest.    She clips on a leash (not that I need one), and we head to the elevator.  Get out on the seventh floor.  Stroll down the hallway.  Meet another lawyer.  Her hair is long, dark and curly – kind of like Medusa.  She seems alright to me.

Medusa leads us into a courtroom that is not in session.  It is being used as a waiting room.  And there he is – the little boy.  He smiles at me.

While Paige walks me over, I check him out.  Excuse the cliché, but this boy is as cute as a button.  I want to lick his freckled face silly.  But know my manners.  He’s wearing a button up black shirt and a skinny tie.  His hair does that whoop de whoop thing that you can do with some sort of styling product if you’re cool.  He’s cool.

He pats the top of my head and my sides.  Nice.  I lay down and Paige shows him the way to my heart.  Rubbing my belly of course.  Oooh,  that is the best.  Even worth waking up.  Make friends with him a little longer, and Medusa says – okay time to go.

I know what this means.  Put on most adorable facial expression.  Follow the lawyers, little boy and his family members.  Walk across hall into Judge Middaugh’s courtroom.  Paige and the little boy walk up to the witness box.  I know he’s scared.  Can feel it.  The jury box is filled.  The judge and her staff are up on a pedestal.  Lots of dark suited lawyers line tables.    They all smile at us.  Do my best to look coy.

The little boy sits down.  I lay down at his feet.  Paige is perched behind us.  The judge asks the little boy if he knows what it means to tell the truth.  He does.  Medusa starts asking questions.

Little boy is anxious.  So I do my best imitation of a slug hoping it will calm him down.  Periodically Medusa asks if he’d like to pet me.  Of course he says yes (who wouldn’t).  And as the questions continue, he relaxes.  Yup there it is – he just smiled.  The questions continue, he doesn’t want to answer a few of them and doesn’t have to.  He deserves to pet my stomach, so I roll over.

Then it’s over.  But first, Paige gives the little boy a tasty treat.  Which he delicately pops into my now happy mouth.

Stroll out of there.

Back in the elevator.

Back to the prosecutor’s office.

Lie down under Paige’s desk.

Find my way back to that sandy beach.

Photo:  Ellie and Paige at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

The Dreaded Colonoscopy


The past four days have involved a bit of whining.  I admit to this.

My clients stoically go through medical horrors.  Their family and friends often say:  they never complained.  They truly are heroes.

I on the other hand have made it one of my missions in life to tell it like it is.

This all starts several months ago.  Doctor says you’re 50 (actually 53).  It’s time for a colonoscopy.  I am too busy to make the appointment for several months.  But leave the paper on my desk and eventually make the call.  They suggest January 2.  I suggest this is not a good way to ring in the new year.  So we settle on today.

I won’t bore you with all the details of the four days leading up to this except to say three things.

First, a vegetarian with vegan tendencies who has to eat a low fiber diet, is an oxymoron.  You have to do this for three days.  I missed popcorn the most.

Second, it is bad enough that you can’t eat anything on the fourth day.  But then you have to  drink a humongous tub of bad tasting medicine water that is only drinkable if you add lemon crystal light.  Which I hope to never taste ever again.

Third, drinking  that crud results in a massive “cleanse.”  If you ever hear someone bragging about voluntarily going on a cleanse (Gwyneth Paltrow is famous for this), realize that they are demented.  It is like having the stomach flu without a fever.

The day dawns bright and early because I didn’t read the instructions carefully enough.  Was only supposed to drink 3/4 of the gross water at night and then the rest in the morning.  This explains why I was up during the night.  Oh well, it worked.

Anne arrives at 9.  She has to drive me there and check me in and pick me up.  Otherwise they won’t do the procedure.  Liability reasons apparently.  Chalk this one up to my profession.  We are driving but I don’t have the address.  Mapquest Virginia Mason downtown.  5 places pop up.  Can’t remember which one to go to.  Make wrong turns.  Mapquest it again. Choose correctly.  Arrive.

Check in.  Say goodbye to Anne.  Nurse takes me into long ward.  Not a pretty suburban hospital.  Nice gritty city one.  I sit on a bed with wheels.  I can see other people on beds with wheels who are looking at me.  We are all separated or can be separated by curtains.  I hear a lot of chit chat.  So much for patient doctor privilege.  The doc behind the curtain next to me is telling a man about the polyps and hemorrhoids they removed.

What!  Who said anything about removing anything.  I thought this was just them taking a look.

The patient across from me is telling her doctor she doesn’t want to be sedated at all.  He says he does about 50 nonsedated procedures a year.  He agrees not to sedate her.  I imagine this is similar to not using drugs during childbirth.  Even twenty years later, I clearly remember yelling at them to give me more drugs.

I listen to all of these conversations because I want to know what the deal is.  At the same time I’m answering the nurse’s questions.  We talk about our kids (she has two), and smile a lot at each other.  I am wearing calm yoga like facade.  She doesn’t realize that I’m spazzing about the prospect of something being taken out from in there.

Doctor comes to say hi.  She is wearing a cute red sweater with flowers embroidered on a peter pan collar.  She leaves.

Change into lovely hospital gown.  Put everything in garment bag.  Lie down on bed.  Bed is raised.  Bag is stowed right underneath.  Nurse finds a vein in top of hand.  Jabs it and connects it to tube for future use. I try not to look.  Hate needles.  She puts a warm blanket on me.   Wheels me down through the long curtained hall.  I resist the urge to wave at everyone as we parade over to the procedure room.

Arrive.  Junior puts a nose tube thing around head.  It feels like it is whispering air near my nose.  Doctor comes in.  Lie on left side.  And then they put me out.  Sort of.  I’ve asked them not to over sedate me.  So I am sort of awake.  But also not awake.  But more awake than I thought I’d be. Or wanted to be.

Thankfully I don’t have contacts in so I can’t actually see the screen in great detail.  But it is right in front of my face.  And my eyes are periodically open.  So I am seeing something.  And I can also feel them travelling around up under and around my stomach.  I’d like them to get on out of there.

It is over.  Wheel me back.  Doctor says everything is quite pristine in there.   (Well it should be – after what I did to make it look nice and pretty).   So nothing was taken out after all.  And before you know it I’m up and take this picture and text it to my girls.  Anne takes me home after first stopping by Whole Foods.  Where I load up on all the fiber in the world.

Go home.  Eat massive lunch.  Decide to look through the folder they’ve given me.  Flip through pages and there it is.  Didn’t expect to see it.  A full proof sheet of vibrant colored pictures of my colon.  How sweet.

Decide to ignore orders to do nothing.  Apparently there is a risk of nausea, dizziness, and other bad things.   Get on workout gear.  Nala is shaking a little.  What is wrong.  We head out.  Basically for the next hour, I’m completely fine.  Nala is not.  It’s like she’s being sick for me.  Usually she’s pulling me and going after dogs and squirrels and anything that is blown by the wind.

She is lagging behind.  I feel sorry for her but am hoping the run will snap her out of it.  This goes on until we are about half a mile from the house.  Suddenly she stops.   Starts gagging.   And in the middle of some nice person’s sidewalk (sorry), she has a  major upheaval.   Two actually.

I’m prepared to carry her, but she manages to keep up with me as we trot down the hill.  Arrive home.  Give her some water and put her to bed.

Photo:  Glamour shot taken while still slightly still drugged, in the Virginia Mason cubicle while waiting for Anne to come get me out of there.

Public Service Announcement:   The Centers for Disease Control recommend a colonoscopy starting at age 50 to screen for colorectal cancer.

If I can do it, so can you.

Hollyball or Bust


Prologue:  The best and worst outfit I ever wore to the Hollyball was when I was President of WSTLA. It was an election year.  We were fighting for the insurance fair conduct act.  And if you added to all that -raising my girls and handling my job…well….There was no time for shopping.

The theme was the Red Hot Hollyball.  And I was determined to do it right.   So a few days before the big event, I went online. or some such website. Found a red hot hollyball dress.

The dress arrived two days later.  But didn’t have time to try it on until the night of the Hollyball.  It was red and slinky and actually fit which was a good thing.  But there was a problem.   The neckline was more like a chest line.  It was broad and deep and plunged down to my navel.   Real fitting for the president of the trial lawyers.

It fit though.  And since there was no time to do anything about it, I put on a smile and sashayed forth.

Today, as usual, the Hollyball arrives before I have figured out what I’m going to do about it.  A couple months ago I had a few plans and ideas.  But one of my cases exploded and that was that.

Get up.  Go to office.  Work.

Anne comes in around one.  She is the opposite of me in terms of being put together.  Her hair is curled, she is wearing sparkles, her lips match her nails.  I am wearing yoga pants, a sweater hoodie, nike boots, mascara, trader joe chapstick, hair yanked back, and my nails are uniformly chipped and raggedy looking.

I tell her my goal is to spend an hour getting ready for the Hollyball.  Even if I didn’t buy an outfit, I can dig around and find something.  Anne gives me a pep talk.  Something about Sharon Stone tying a plain white shirt around her waist with a long black skirt.

Work more.  Need to get going soon if am going to stay on schedule.  Plan is to go for run with Nala before primping.

Text message bleeps.  Open phone.  Photo of smashed bumper.  Alysha has been hit.  Call her.  She’s okay.  Happened up on the hill.  Some dummy drove throught the intersection without yielding.    All but admitted he was texting.  She manages to drive the few blocks home.

Finish up stuff at office.  Head home. Park in front of her car.  Get out.  Look at the crumpled little bumper.  Neighbor drives up.  Examines it with me.  Go inside house.  Hug Alysha who is calm.   Wait for tow truck.  They come.  Drive to Hertz downtown.  Drop her off.  Drive home.  Consider getting gas.  12 miles per warning light.  Will get gas later.  Don’t make a wise route decision.  Get caught in traffic.  Finally arrive home.  Gas down to 6 miles.

3:15.  Look at computer.  Handle emails until 3:40.  What am I thinking.  Sunset is at 4:18.  Throw on running gear.  Nala twirling around in circles of excitement.  Go for run.  Sun goes down.  Run in the dark.  Make it back.  Go to put Nala’s booties back on.  She is filthy.  It wasn’t raining but the sidewalk/roads/grass/weeds and mud puddles were wet.  Give her a shower.  Dry her off.  Send her on her way.  Take shower.  Look at clock.  5:45.  How did that happen.

Look in closet.  Nothing is inspiring.  Close it.  Get out hair dryer.  It is happy to see me.  Usually just let hair air dry or pull back in a pony tail.  Get most of it dry.  Decide to put on more eye makeup than usual.  This means some gold and dark gray.  Red lipstick.  There we go.

And now comes the hard part.  What exactly am I going to wear.

Open closet back up.  Look at the dresses.  Decide am not in the mood.   Pull on some black velvet bcbg leggings, add a draping blouse tunic type thing that came from Barneys about four years ago.  Grab pencil heeled velvet black boots (these at least are Hollyball worthy).  Little Prada silk bag have had for over a decade.  Throw on Nike boots and black puffy coat.  Out the door.

Car is giving me angry red warnings.  Am going to run out of gas.  Stop at station.  6:30.  Hollyball is starting.  Drive downtown.  Three miles.  25 minutes.  It’s that time of year.

Get to the Four Seasons. Pull off Nike’s and put on lovely boots.   Valet gives me stub.  Walk into hotel.  Turn right.  Head towards Spanish Ballroom.  Reach it.  Empty.  Oh dear.

Wrong hotel.

Rush back to valet.  They have driven off already.  Talk to the door man.  He has been here over 20 years.  This hotel is the Fairmont.  Used to be the Four Seasons.  So I wasn’t totally dreaming.   The correct one is on First and Union.

Go inside until he comes and gets me.  20 minutes later.  Tip him for being nice.  Tip the driver for having to drive it for nothing.

Drive down around and over to the correct Four Seasons.   Arrive at destination at 7:20.  Head toward garage but valet motions me over.  Obey.  He hands me a stub.

Head upstairs.  There are tuxedos and nice suits.  Superbly coifed women in sparkly dresses.  Everyone looks like they have made an effort.  They are so lovely and festive.

And then there’s me.  Looking like I’m going to the club.

But no one seems to think it odd.

And we hug and kiss and Hollyball the night away.

Photo:  Paul Whelan in his tuxedo with his dear friend Larry Barron

The woman with multiple personalities – a pro bono story



The thing about being a young associate is that you pretty much need to do what you’re told.

During my late 20s, Tom Chambers was the boss.  If he said Karen do it, I pretty much followed orders.  Take this deposition.  Argue that motion.  Find an expert.  Find a better expert.  Tom’s softly spoken non-negotiable instructions structured my time at Chambers Court.

One day Tom summons me to his real office.  The cubicle.  Hands me a file and tells me to deal with it.  It is a pro bono case.  For a woman whom we’ll call …hmmm…Sybil.  Yes, that will work.

Sybil has been turned down by her disability insurance company.  She had been working but lost her job due to a severe psychological disorder.  She had an insurance policy from work that provided coverage in the event of a medical disability.  In a shocking development – the insurance company claimed her illness was a pre-existing condition and cut off her benefits.

In fact this is not shocking.  It is just typical.

Tom has great compassion for Sybil.  Takes on her case.  Opens a file.  And hands it  to me.

Over the next many months I analyze insurance records, medical files and put Sybil’s story together.  I can’t tell you what she says or the details about her story because that is a no-no.

But I can tell you this.  She is no joke.

In order to get her story straight I have to talk to her.  A lot.   I have to learn every little detail about her history.  From the time of birth forward.  What makes her tick.  The good things.  The not so good things.  What has changed so that she is no longer able to work.  This is a rigorous process.   It’s how Tom wants things done.  And I aim to please.

Phone calls have to be abandoned.  This is because if I call, I can’t tell exactly whom I’m talking to.  You see, Sybil is also Sherry and Alice and Tracey and about a dozen other people.  Each person has not only a different perspective, but an entirely different history.   Not to mention style of dress. makeup and tone of voice.   In reading the psychiatrist’s records, I piece together how this came to be.  Can’t tell you the reason.  But if you think of something very bad and traumatic that will be close enough.  Poor Sybil.

This means, need Sybile to come see me.  In person.  Up close and real.  All dozen of her.  Until we have figured everything out.  After awhile I get the hang of things.  The strangeness has worn off.  Can usually figure out who has come to visit.  Even get the names straight.

Eventually Tom’s pro bono project ends well.  The insurance company gives up.  Sybile’s policy is honored.  And the White Knight rides off in search of the next person he can save.

Photo:  Alysha and Reid exhibiting their elvish personalities waiting for dinner with me, Shellie and Dan at Umi Saki House..

The un-vacation day 1


There is nowhere more beautiful than Seattle in the summertime.  Decide for once, to remain here and relax rather than go somewhere else for vacation.  Have many friends who do this.  Watch all their good times on facebook.  They explore the city.  Stay home and garden.   Have friends over.  Hang out on the patio.

This is what happens when  a trial lawyer decides to take a stay-cation.

First off, this is not unplanned.  Months ago, Anne and John marked off calendar.  Anne actually nagged me about it:  Karen you need to take some time off.  Knew she was right because couldn’t remember what day of the week it was anymore.  A symptom of working weekends.

Monday morning dawns bright, lovely and 68 degrees by 7:30 a.m.  This is when the alarm goes off.

Lie in bed until 7:45.  Jump up, brush teeth, splash water on face to make sure won’t sound like have just woken up.

8:00 call 1-800 number and listen to bad classical music on speaker phone.  Am waiting for others to join in.  Shrill music continues for 6 minutes.  Email.  What’s going on.  The moderator hasn’t arrived yet.  Finally arrives.  We are discussing nominations for the WSBA executive litigation committtee.  This takes 30 minutes.  Finish up at 8:40.

Alysha has taken Nala for a run.  But I need also to run. says it is another degree warmer.  Eat a handful of granola and chocolate chips.  Because breakfast isn’t complete without chocolate.  Throw on run gear.  Alysha comes back.  Nala is panting.  They ran to the sculpture park and back.  Alysha runs fast.  So feed Nala and head out the door solo.

Down the hill.  Over the pedestrian bridge.  Along Myrtle Edwards.  Through the railroad yard.  Back up then traversing the hill back to the house.  It is 10:15.   Get ready.  Noelle needs to borrow the car.

She drives me to the office.  Arrive at 10:49.  Call down to Thelma – Pat will be coming to see me at 11.  He’s already there.  He comes up.  We are preparing for mediation.  Do that.  John drives us back downtown.  We grab lunch at Il Forniao.  Walk across the street to WAMS for mediation.  Pat goes gets files out of his car which he had left in the garage before cabbing it over to my office.  I sit on a bench in the sun for 10 minutes.

Go inside.  Walk to elevator and remember, this is the funky one.  Go back to foyer and hit key pad for 9th floor.  It tells me to go to elevator N.  Which zips me to the 9th floor and WAMs.

Where we stay until 5:40 p.m.  Doing top secret stuff which I can’t tell you about except to say.  It is a total waste of court ordered time.

Call Noelle to pick me up.  Now she is going for a run.  Walk outside.  Take off black peep toe heels.  Put on purple flip flops.   Flop down 6th Avenue turn on Pine and make way over to Westlake.  Bask in the sunlight.  Walk up stairs at Westlake.  Pay $2.25 for a one-way ticket on the monorail.  It is there waiting for me…nah.  It leaves just as I get there.  Wait for it to come back.  Ride for 3 minutes to the Seattle Center.  Call Noelle.  She’s down by the Ferris Wheel.  Tells me to call Alysha for pickup.  Alysha is at yoga.  So decide to walk home.  This takes a while.   Because am wearing flip flops.

Get home.  No Alysha.  No Noelle.  And Noelle has my house key.  What to do.  Decide to deadhead some flowers.  Pick up the debris bucket when neighbor Sherri walks by.  Yay.  She saves me.  She has the extra key.

Open door.  Nala is wagging her whole body in greeting.  It is now 6:20.  Take her to do her business.  Change outfit.  Text Noelle that I made it inside.  She returns around 45 minutes later.  Gets cleaned up.  We go to Blue Water Taco Grill at 8:00 for dinner.  Eat.  Go to drug store for shampoo.  Go to movie to see The Heat.  Laugh.

Get home.  Settle in.  Open email at 1.  Note from Anne.  Client issue.  Need to figure out how to deal with it tomorrow.  Which means, I’m going to have to do it.  After the firm meeting.

Yes, that’s right.  Tomorrow day 2 of stay-cation.   Means that I will be attending the firm meeting that starts at 9:30.  Then helping client in the afternoon.

This is why in order to have an actual vacation, a trial lawyer must leave town.

Photo:  At WAMS, trying to absorb sunlight through the windows.

Exactly one week before trial…uh oh


Wake up at 6.  Hear Alysha turn off the alarm and leave to teach her yoga class.

Lean down and grab ipad off floor.  Check email.  Check weather. Turn on Pandora Anthony Hamilton station.  Lie there like a slug for another hour.  Leisurely get up and out the door.  Nala gets around to doing her business after first lunging for an imaginary squirrel.

Arrive at office.  Make a bowl of oatmeal and rinse some blueberries.  Eat.  Check email.  Look at calendar.  Turn Pandora station to The Isley Brothers.  It is 9:00.

Cut and paste a caption onto a document.  Label it:  “Trial Brief.”  Start into the first paragraph.  Divert attention to various other things.  Ed comes in to play with Nala.

9:30 meeting with Kessler and Catherine.  Finish up at 10:15.  That was a long one.

Email comes in from John – is this document ready to go.  It is a draft of the joint statement of evidence.  Edit it.  Then have uh oh moment. This is usually filed with the trial brief.   Have sinking feeling.  Send emails.

Me:  When is the trial brief due.

John: Today.

Me:  Oh holy cow.

John:  Does that mean I should cancel my dentist appointment at 3.

Me:  Cancel it.

Look at calendar.  Oh.  There it is.  At the very top in fine print.  It basically says:  Everything is Due today!!!!

This is what has to be done.  Trial brief, proposed neutral statement of the case, joint statement of evidence, general voir dire questions, jury instructions with citations of authority, proposed verdict form.    If you are a lawyer you know what this involves and are thinking – oh holy cow.

Ask Mike in reception to please hold calls.

Give Nala a snack.

Start drafting.

Cel rings.  It’s Noelle.  Payment deadline for the remainder of her study abroad tuition.  Figure that all out and pay it on line.

Back to drafting.

John brings in mail.  Allstate is objecting to a proposed judgment on our jury verdict from last month.  Email co-counsel.

Back to drafting.

Send a thousand emails to John.  What’s this.  What’s that.  How much is this.  Whaaaaa.

Oatmeal wears off.

Give Nala more water.  Head out to Whole Foods for delicious salad bar.  But first, make detour.  Her nails need to be filed down at Petco which is next door.     Pick up salad and Nala.  Rush back to office.

Eat while drafting.

Manage not to choke.

Note to self – vegan chocolate cookie is actually delicious.  How did they do that.

Finish meal while typing.

Music is too sedate.  Need more frenzy.  Turn it to…Prince!

Send more emails.  Ignore more phone calls.  Sorry – I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Finish one document after the other.

Email John:  okay time to format.

John comes back in a flash.  Wow he’s quick.  A bit too quick.    Razor eyes of his boss find bad things.  He runs back upstairs to fix them.  It is 3:02.  If this had been a normal day, he would be just sitting down into his dentist’s chair.  Instead, is being drilled by…me.

Whelan comes in for a quick chat.  Pats Nala.  Leaves.

Back to editing the trial brief.

Sheila E.  thumps her drums and belts out:  “She wants to lead the glamorous life.”

I bounce up and down on the ball.  Nala raises her head to see what’s going on.   Since food is not involved she loses interest.


John rushes back with the rest of the fixed documents.

Hand him back the piles.    It is 3:27.

Am smug.  We are finished and will be able to efile an entire hour before the clerk’s office closes for the day.

John says:  it is going to be close, as he backs out the door.

Me:  Isn’t it closed at 4:30.

John:  Yes, but we have to get this to Snohomish County. [An hour away]

Me:  Don’t they have efile.

John:  No, the messenger will be here in five minutes.  If I can get this copied and done in the next five minutes they can get down there.

He sprints away.

And so I write this blog.  While Cameo chants:

Word up everybody say

When you hear the call, you’ve got to get it underway

Word up, it’s the code word

No matter where yo usay it, you’ll know that you’ll be heard now.


Photo:  Nala getting her nails done.





Check out a recent interview by Super Lawyers about my blog. Yes, I'm a lawyer. But I'm also a human being. I have a doggie named Nala, three daughters, eat brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts for breakfast, and wear jeans as often as possible when not in court.
Favorite Quotations

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
— Nelson Mandela

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've to say, and say it hot.
— D. H. Lawrence

Why slap them on the wrist with a feather when you can belt them over the head with a sledgehammer.
— Katharine Hepburn

Truth, when not sought after, rarely comes to light.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly.
— Langston Hughes

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.
— Jane Austen

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. — Edgar Allan Poe

If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn't you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing! — Margaret Thatcher

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
— Dr. Suess

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
— Abraham Lincoln

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. — Desmond Tutu

True eloquence consists in saying all that is required and only what is required. — La Rochefoucauld

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop

The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free. — Oprah Winfrey

If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative. — Woody Allen

The soul never thinks without a picture. — Aristotle

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. — William Shakespeare

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. — Muhammad Ali

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. — Stephen Hawking

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand. — Apache proverb

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost. — Dalai Lama

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
— Anne Frank

Learn to laugh; it is a discipline to be mastered. Let go of the everlasting burden of always needing to sound profound. — Richard J. Foster

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. — Albert Einstein

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain. — Helen Keller

Remember that lost time does not return. — Thomas á Kempis

If thou faint in the day of adversity thy strength is small. — Proverbs 24:10

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. — Gertrude Stein

It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom. — Albert Einstein

The right of trial by jury shall be preserved. — 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees. — Ludacris

And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
— Erica Jong

Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment. — Judge Learned Hand

You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefullness, But still, like air, I'll rise. — Maya Angelou

The moment that justice must be paid for by the victim of injustice it becomes itself injustice. — Benjamin Tucker

He who keeps his eye on results cannot give himself wholeheartedly to his task, however simple or complex that task may be. — Howard Thurman

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. — Mahatma Ghandi

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum. — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. — Flannery O'Connor

We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles. — Jimmy Carter

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. — Simone Weil

It is not the level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service. — Albert Einstein

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. — Elie Wiesel

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. — Bill Cosby

The time is always right to do what is right. — Martin Luther King Jr.

I had rather attempt something great and fail, than to attempt nothing at all and succeed. — Robert Schuller

It is very easy to break down something. You can take a stone and throw it through that window; that is easy. Try fixing it, and that takes longer. It takes longer to help someone who has been broken. That’s the work you’re doing. — Desmond Tutu

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. — Annie Dillard

Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done. — William Shakespeare

To straighten the crooked you must first do a harder thing – straighten yourself. — Buddha

A thought is an idea in transit. — Pythagoras

Fall seven times, stand up eight. — Old Japanese proverb

No generalization is wholly true, not even this one. — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Of what use is eloquence? He who engages in fluency of words to control men often finds himself hated by them. — Confucius

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. — Martha Graham