The woman with multiple personalities - a pro bono story

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

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

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.