During one of my first weeks on the job, an attorney told me he wanted a copy of every document I sent to an expert witness, starting with a large stack I had just put in the mail. It was not clear why he wanted a copy because we possessed the originals. The originals were, if you think about it, our “copy,” one we could read pretty much all the time, if we wanted.
“But I want to keep track of what we send them.” He spoke in italics since I was clearly not getting it.
“Yes,” I politely averred. I was 23 years-old and the new guy in the office. This was our first conversation and he was a superior. I did not want to offend, but I sure as hell did not want to photocopy a thousand pages all over again just because some attorney did not understand the point of the Expert Document Log. Seriously, a thousand pages! Some clipped, some stapled, some spiral-bound, some two-sided, some color, some the dreaded “legal size”… Pardon my French, but Je veux acheterun fauteuil pour votre sœur.
“If you want to see what we sent,” I said in the delicate, deferential tone one takes with wealthy people leagues out of their depth, “Then I can always fetch the master copy of each document. There is a file on the network that keeps track of everything we send to each expert witness. And I can go grab an original whenever you want it!”
The attorney did not reply right away. He paused a moment to stare out into the empty space over his desk. It was a look I would come to know well in the next eightish years of paralegaling at a few dozen law firms. No, I wouldn’t exactly say I came to love it. Is it hate? Is “hate” a word? I’m not sure, but it's a look that says, I did not go to law school to have some kid talk sense to me.
He broke the silence by saying, “Look, we need to think outside the box.” He then repeated his request for a copy of all documents we sent to each expert in a tone as delicate as I used, but with far more force.
Already wearied by his cryptologic, I found myself suddenly confused about what a box has to do with intelligence. How or why anyone might think inside of one, and why is that bad? What were the advantages that exobox cognition has over its endobox sibling?
I didn’t ask. I just surrendered. I said, “OK. I’ll copy them and bring them back here. They should be ready by tomorrow.”
“No,” he said. “I don’t want them.” Then, in a flash of boxless brilliance he added, “Keep the copies with the originals.”