Reflections on the Lost Case, and the Hopeless Cause

Today, one of my first, big cases may draw to a close. You’ll understand why I can’t offer more on the details. This was a bank case, though — just money. But it’s a big case, and one I believe in still.

Putting pen to paper to assist with this otherwise-undescribed ending, I’m left wondering what remains. What did we accomplish? For our clients, I know they got their value. No other appellate group could’ve transformed a huge defeat at nisi prius into something resembling a Good Fight. But what remains for us, after our fees?

For one, here’s the first case that made me feel like I belonged at this firm, and that feeling endures. Since the close of briefing in October, I’m still close, even friends with, the partner who gave me the case, and the senior associate that ran it. More, the senior associate is that much closer to himself becoming a partner, an honor he certainly deserves, especially after running a big case that has (and will continue to) lead to new business. The client knew this was a tough case; they wanted a good fight, which is what we gave them. And from that start, we’ve already built the foundations of a micro-practice group, to take the referrals.

Whether we would have won at court or on later appeal is something that, well, we’ll never know. But our briefs were some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to contribute to, and some of our arguments truly broke ground. If you believe, as I do, that the law is something served by good argument, we did our duty.

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Whether at law or farther afield, in love, there’s value — beauty, and even romance — to the hopeless cause. We learn about ourselves, pick up friends along the way, and expand the human experience. Once in a while, we lay the foundation for something bigger, maybe something we didn’t expect. It is a fact of the universe that not a single act goes unfelt, and a conclusion today may not remain the sole conclusion tomorrow. To paraphrase (and reduce) a nobler sentiment, the arc of experience is long. All of that counsels risk, because all effects add depth to life. Sometimes, you have to roll the hard six. Most of the time, you won’t get it. But you’ll get something.

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