Clerking at Rice Law: by Blair Beaty

I recently got to take part in a Motion Hearing in a new setting- in front of a Divorce Referee. Instead of a judge sitting at the bench, the Divorce Referee, Opposing Counsel, and clients are gathered around a table. The Divorce Referee is usually a lawyer who is no longer practicing family law who is chosen to determine the outcome of the Motion on a more expedited basis.

I walked into the hearing assuming that the dialogue between Opposing Counsels and clients would be much more relaxed and conversational due to the setting. Boy, was I wrong.. The clients, sitting on opposite ends of the table, shared nothing more than a few darting glares at each other. The Opposing Counsel made her presence known by constantly interrupting and making underhanded remarks regarding our client. The attorney I was assisting, who is always rational and respectful, kept it together like no one I had ever seen….until the end. The time had come for the Divorce Referee to make her ruling and the Opposing Counsel would still not allow our attorney her opportunity to speak. So our attorney did what you are taught in law school never to do, she interrupted and raised her voice and made her point known. And then the Judge said, “You know what, you’re right Counselor!”

Did I learn about child support payments? Of course. Did I learn how the court grants arrearage payments? Absolutely. The biggest lesson I took away, however, was exactly what the attorney said to me when we walked out of that courtroom with a “win” under our belt…. “Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.”