“Be Prepared.”: by Erin O’Dea

“Be Prepared.”

You can thank the Scouts for that little gem. I was only a Girl Scout for a few days. (Yes, “be prepared” was also the Girl Scout motto.) I didn’t like the girly badges they tried to make us earn, like the “knitting” or “baking” badge. Although, those two badges would go on a short list of “cool hipster hobbies” these days. I’m no hipster; I’m not even hip. I wasn’t then either. I wanted to go camping or make fire; apparently those badges were only for the boys. I guess, as girls, we were supposed to “be prepared” for domestic bliss… Domestic bliss was not and is not my calling, but the Scout motto has re-emerged as my battle cry.
As a “baby attorney,” it is hard to always be prepared for everything, which makes it all the more important to work every day to make sure I am prepared. Mr. Rice teaches us to prepare for whatever might come our way. We walk into court or mediation with more equipment than the average U2 roadie. We have the paper file in boxes stacked on a dolly, three copies of all authority or documents we may have cited to in our pleadings, a laptop with the digital file, the digital file on a jump drive, a small printer, a small scanner, a bag of nuts (in case Mr. Rice’s blood sugar drops), pencils, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, tabs, extension cords, blank paper, notepads, the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the local rules, etc. I could keep listing, but you have to buy Mr. Rice’s 25th Anniversary Edition of The Complete Guide to Divorce, coming in 2012, if you want that kind of priceless knowledge!
Now, you may ask, “How does a bag of nuts or a printer benefit my client and me?” When you and your client have been at mediation all day, and the other side is suddenly ready to sign off on your Marital Dissolution Agreement and Proposed Parenting Plan, you’re ready! You can have a little protein to help focus your thoughts, pull up the previous proposed MDA and PPP from your digital file, make the changes the parties have agreed to, print off the updated MDA and PPP, and have the opposing party sign them right then and there. Boom! You’re done, and more importantly, your client is happy! The painful divorce process has come to a close for him or her. The other side didn’t have an opportunity to go home, change his or her mind, and decide he or she wanted to continue fighting over the hand-painted commemorative Elvis plate from QVC.
So, be prepared! Take everything you might need with you when you go to court or any place where you may settle an issue for your client. Your Dad isn’t going to yell at you for over-packing on this trip, but your client will thank you with referrals!

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