Friday, June 7, 2013


    You know the Trocadéro in Paris?  In that building, the extent of which you cannot possibly imagine from photographs of it, the main hearing in a great lawsuit is going on at this very moment.  You may wonder how it is possible to heat such a building adequately in this frightful winter.  It is not heated.  To start by thinking of heating in such a case is something that people can do only in the little pretty country town where you spend your life. The Trocadéro is not being heated, but this does not interfere with the progress of the case;  on the contrary, in the midst of this cold, which radiates up and down from all sides, litigation is going on at exactly the same pace, this way and that, lengthwise and across.” [1]

Note: “litigation . . . lengthwise and across.”  That’s great.  A long time ago I worked for a man at a law firm connected to a major insurance company.  He used to tell the young lawyers there that we practiced “litigation in its purest form” because we had no authority to settle cases, only to try them and attend to motion practice and discovery matters.  The company’s claims staff (who were mostly a terrific group of people) negotiated settlements.   The boss’s description of our work was ridiculous, but what was craziest of all in that crazy job was the weird story he told every new attorney about being made to try a case in New York State Supreme Court, another vast, cold building, one Christmas day.  That never happened and lawyers are supposed to tell the truth.

[1]  Franz Kafka, From The First Notebook, The Blue Octavo Notebooks, Cambridge, Exact Change, 1991


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