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  • Scott Gardner

Practicing in SW Virginia - Christmas

Impressions are important in practicing law - first impressions will get you clients and lasting impressions - well, they are what they are. Driving up in front of a courthouse in southwest Virginia, my client is standing by the door, waiting for me. "C'mon man! My lawyer drives a Volkswagen?!" First impression fail. "So what you're telling me is that I don't charge enough?" He didn't get the joke. Inside the courtroom I'm waiting on my case to be called. My phone goes off - not a ring but Fleetwood Mac on Spotify! Everyone is looking at me and I can't get it quiet. Now I'm not a fan of silencing Stevie Nicks at any time but pretty sure the ghost of Christie McVie finished a full chorus of

"Go your own way" after the phone was shut off. A profuse apology to the judge and then the woman sitting in front of me turns and says, "I like your playlist. Do you have a card?" First impression win. A moment later I run into a childhood friend I haven't seen in some time. A little bit of BS jousting and then he says, "You look good in that fancy suit. Those shoes. They look like the same shoes you wore to play backyard football." Lasting impression fail. Sigh. Finally, my case is called. My client is in court to argue why he shouldn't go to jail for failing to pay his fines and costs. There's some begging and pleading on my part - no surprise. I explain that during the holiday, my client could have many opportunities to work some retail and get a quick payment to the court. The judge agrees. Client: "I did put in an application at the toy store at the mall. Great. "I've always wanted to be a toymaker." The judge, without pause and no change of expression, leans over the bench and quietly states, "You know, they don't make them there." BOOM. I hop in my Jetta and drive away from the courthouse, listening to the Eagles asking me to be home for Christmas and thinking I need to raise my rate.

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