All in a Day’s Work (Part 1)

What’s a typical day like for a running consiglieri?  If I were to describe it in 20 words or less, I’d probably say “Go to work, attend hearings or meetings, do some paper work, go home, do some running, then get some rest.”   But surely it couldn’t be as boring as it sounds right?  Nah, far from it.

Take yesterday for example.  I had to come in early as I was scheduled to interview a prospective witness for a case I’m handling.  The witness, whose name I shall not disclose to protect his privacy, is a highly respected member of my profession.  He is a recognized expert in the field of alternative dispute resolution, and is a former Dean of one of the local law colleges.  I’ll just refer to him as “Dean”  for purposes of this post.

I was to be assisted by two associates, both of whom I instructed the day prior to study the case file and prepare a list of issues and questions that should be raised during the interview – a script if you will.   The meeting was at 10 a.m. so I was in before 9 a.m., expecting to find the associates’ memo on my desk.  I scanned my in-tray and messy desk but did not find any memo.  The associates could have sent it via email so I turned on my computer and checked my Outlook inbox.  Several emails started pouring in but the all-important email was not among them. 

9:35 a.m.  While waiting for the memo/email, I surfed the net and visited my favorite sites: manutd.com; uefa.com; facebook.com, etc.   Wow, Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League!  Mourinho once again proved that he really was the “Special One.”  But wait, enough of football.  Where’s the darn memo/email?  Or, perhaps the more pressing concern, where are the associates?  We were supposed to go to the venue of the meeting (a short drive from the office) together.  I asked my secretary to check if they were around already.  

From about 30 feet from my room, I saw my secretary give me the thumbs-up sign.  Whew, at least they were at the office already.  I told her to round them up as I did not want to be late (which was usually the case LOL) in deference to our revered witness, Dean. 

9:45 a.m.  Where the heck are they?  I took a quick trip to the bathroom and once again requested my secretary to get the associates’ asses down to my room as soon as possible.  As I exited the men’s room, I saw them finally enter my wing.  Off we went.  While in the car, I casually asked about the interview guide that was supposed to have been sent to me that morning.  One associate said she had it printed out first and had no time to give me a hard copy. She said this with a straight face and, worse, did not even hand to me the copy she supposedly printed out.  The other associate said that he wrote his down on his notebook.  Grand, just grand.  By then I had resigned myself to just winging the interview.   Suddenly, my phone rang.  It was an associate whom I asked to attend a promulgation of judgment in a criminal case where we acted as private prosecutors.  The line was not that good, but through the chatter, I heard the associate utter the word “acquitted.”  After letting out a series of expletives I instructed him to receive a copy of the decision.  I knew it!  That @#&^%# judge screwed my client.  Oh well, she’ll have her day.  But that will have to wait.

10:10 a.m., somewhere along Jupiter St.  It just occured to me that none of us has been to Dean’s office.  Traffic along Jupiter St. was bad enough as it is; not knowing where to go would surely not get us to our destination sooner.  And we were already late. We stopped and asked a  Barangay Bel-Air traffic aide for directions and, to our relief, he informed us that the building was just at the next corner.  We drove to the back of the building where the parking spaces were located.  I rolled down my window (well, nowadays one has only to push a button) and introduced myself to the security guard.   I saw a glint of recognition in his eyes as he motioned us to follow him to our reserved parking slot.  Nice.

10:20 a.m., at Dean’s conference room.  We were 20 minutes late.  Dean was already waiting for us in the conference room, munching on his club sandwich.  I noticed that another sandwich had been prepared.  I looked at the associates as if to say, “Sorry guys, just help yourselves to the bottomless water, that sandwich is mine.  Besides, you guys still owe me that memo.  Bwahahaha! (sound of evil laughter)”  I couldn’t believe the sight of a club sandwich brought out the sadist in me.  Anyway, back to the task at hand.  We all sat down and introduced ourselves.  After exchanging pleasantries, I gave Dean a brief introduction of the facts of the case and what we had hoped to achieve by presenting him as our witness.  At that point, I was still undecided if I was going to present him as an expert witness, or merely in his capacity as a member of the institution with which our client had a dispute.  In the latter case, he can only testifiy on facts of his personal knowledge.   So I asked Dean, and he politely declined to testify as an expert, insinuating that he was not much of an expert in the field.  While Dean was talking, I quickly went over his curriculum vitae that associate #1 handed to me.  Suffice it to say that it was impressive.  Dean had apparently authored a number of books and delivered countless lectures on the subject matter.  If he would not qualify as an expert, no one would.  At that point, I knew that I was face to face with a class act. 

Then began the interview.  Well, it was more like a monologue.  I would just ask simple questions to get things started then Dean would fire away.  It was like pressing the “play” button in a tape recorder and off Dean went.  To my left, associates #1 and #2 were fiercely scribbling down everything Dean was saying.  The interview went well.  Dean shared quite a few things that would definitely help our case.  But for me, this was not the highlight of the meeting.

While Dean was sharing his vast knowledge about the subject matter, he discussed something that was not quite germane to the case we were supposed to discuss, but which somehow piqued my interest.  Dean mentioned that the entity he was working with, which is actually a multi-partite body composed of various stakeholders in the industry, came up with a document that would serve as a guide in the preparation and interpretation of contracts used in that particular industry.  The purpose of the document, according to Dean, was to level the playing field.  The document was supposed to be applied suppletorily, meaning, where a contract was silent on certain matters, the relevant provisions of the document shall be read into the contract.  He added that this was how he interpreted and treated the document in cases that were brought to him for arbitration.  Dean’s discourse somehow did not sit well with me and the nerd in me (yes, I am a nerd trapped in an athlete’s body LOL) surfaced.

The multi-partite body that created the document was organized pursuant to law.  To me, a reading of its powers and jurisdiction would indicate that the document created by it partook the nature of a subordinate legislation.  Hence, the document should not only be meant to fill in the gaps in a contract. Its provisions should have the force and effect of law such that in case of conflict, the provisions of the document should reign supreme.  If this were not the case, then the purpose of the document could be easily circumvented. The stronger party could always insist on including a stipulation to the effect that the document shall find no application to the parties’ agreement.  Talk about leveling the playing field.     

Anyway, Dean ended the discussion by saying that my theory has yet to be validated by the Supreme Court in an actual case.  That was the end of it, the Dean has spoken.  My morning wasn’t so bad after all.

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2 Responses to “All in a Day’s Work (Part 1)”

  1. Reverend Says:

    Can’t wait for Part 2.

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