Friday, December 27, 2013

Brief overload

Without getting TOO involved in what I do for a living, let's just put out there, as I already have done on my "About Me" page, disclose that I work for a major . . . government, the HQ of which is in Washington DC.

No, I don't work HERE exactly, but they're damned interested in what I do.
Anyway, on a day-to-day basis, I write legal briefs, which is basically a term paper, except with more statements like, "Id." and "See id., supra, at blah blah blah."  It might seem all high/mighty, but there are days where it's a matter of full *headdesk* mode as I am required to explain to a Court that yes, water is actually wet, and provide citations what water is wet, and then explain why my opponent's arguments that while water might be wet MOST of the time, and despite his client's water being, you know, IN A POOL at the time, it might NOT have been wet that time and OMG WHAT A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE.

No, but seriously, you're going to make me write the whole brief out?
 So, I have to spend a LOT of time writing out extensive legal arguments to what-should-be-obvious legal points, because I'm not allowed to say this in response:

May it please the Court:  This.  Love, Tai Fung.  kthxbye

Don't get me wrong.  Some of the work is HARD.  It requires major thought, and I have to spend significant time trying to explain complex points in a logical fashion, all the while explaining to a Court why my opponent's points are wrong.  That's quite difficult sometimes, and I think I do a decent job at it.

Set phasers to "Winning."

But, that's why I'm proud of my job, and get so annoyed when I have to STOP doing that stuff to explain things that should be obvious.  It's not such a simple task.  I can't just do this:

My briefs just got way shorter!

According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, all briefs filed in the Federal Courts of Appeal must contain:

1.  A statement of jurisdiction (meaning, a page or two on why the Court can look at the case at all)

2.  A statement of issues (wherein the briefing party writes some SERIOUSLY ONE-SIDED questions, the answers to which are obvious).  Stuff like, "Whether the Court should throw this case into a landfill, where the other side is a smiling, talking bag of poo, and so are their arguments."

3.  A statement of the case and of the relevant facts ("Court, I'm going to tell you JUST what you need to know, and which you could read yourself, but here are the Cliff Notes version, after which you'll just read the actual record of proceedings anyway to see if I'm telling you the truth)

4.  A summary of the argument (I'm about to argue stuff to you, but here it is in a page, but SERIOUSLY PLEASE READ MY WHOLE BRIEF!)

5.  A statement explaining the standard of review (Courts can only judge cases depending on the standard, which changes depending on the type of case and a myriad of other factors, all of which you don't give two emoji poops about).

6.  Argument (look!  Where's finally here!  I've JUST started really advocating and I'm alreazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snores*)

Anyway, by this point, you can probably tell that writing an appellate brief in US Courts of Appeal isn't the easiest of tasks. 

See you in two weeks!

Each appellate brief I write takes, on average, two weeks to get done.  Some can be shorter, some can be longer, but 2 weeks per brief is about average.
So.  About a week ago, I finally hit my breaking point.

I was hit with brief after brief, and was juggling them as best I could.  But every time I was given ANOTHER brief, it was sandwiched in between two OTHER briefs I was already writing.  Imagine having a term paper due on the 1st of the month, and one due on the 16th.  Then, you go back to class, and learn that there's ANOTHER term paper due, but this one is due on the 7th.  Have fun!  The problem is, if you MISS a deadline, you're in deep, deep, (deep!) trouble:

Well, fuck.
So yeah, that's a problem.  

And that's where I am nowadays.  Unhappy, stressed, and feeling woefully unappreciated.

But still running.

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