Is that Legal?

Is that Legal?

A Story by Dianne
"

This is a discription of my first meeting with a prospective attorney. I wrote this as an excercise in discriptive writing.

"
Dianne went back to when they’d first met. His office looked like a Hollywood set, the entry furnished with antiques and replicas and situated in an expensive neighborhood in Saratoga. There was a beautiful birdseye maple armoire that she would love to have in her own home and a round, burl wood table and burl wood receptionist’s desk. The receptionist was polite with a warm smile and dressed casually; not so casual as to be unsettling, but just enough to put you at ease while you waited. In her brown sued blazer, trim jeans and heals she looked well put together without being flashy. The navy wingback Dianne was sitting in had subtle maroon and gold striping and it wasn’t just handsome, it was comfortable too. “Can I get you something to drink? Coffee, tea, coke?” the receptionist asked. “Water would be nice” Dianne responded. Everything spoke of understated luxury.
 
He was medium height, medium build, grey nearly white hair with the ageless look of a yogi except for the custom tailored, black on black, Italian, pin striped suit. He could have been 50 or 70, but he moved with the grace and energy of a dancer, bounding down the hall with a light smile and an air of excitement in his eyes more commonly seen on an eight year old boy headed for the tree on Christmas morning. “Good morning, Stan Atwood,” he said, offering her his hand, “thank you for coming.”
 
“Dianne Evans, thank you for seeing me, Stan” she replied, taking his hand. It crossed her mind that maybe she should have addressed him more formally as Mr. Atwood. She didn’t like formal much and it was too late now, but he seemed pleased rather than offended by her direct manner of address. She was surprised by his hand shake; it was smooth and genteel, not firm and gripping like most. She remembered reading once that a gentleman would be cautious of causing discomfort to a beringed hand. His light brown eyes were warm and aware, observing, measuring, categorizing and his voice had a warm bur to it. His smile deepened a little as he seemed to sense her uncertainty. He didn’t miss much, she could tell; you’d play straight with Stan or there’d be hell to pay and she knew she had made her decision.
 
His name was one of three she had been given. She’d already spoken to him briefly on the phone when she’d made the appointment. Actually she’d spoken to one of the other attorneys as well and that had decided her to start with Stan. The other attorney had been brusque, demanding to know the names of the other parties and then hanging up on her. He had called her back maybe a half hour later to say that yes he could represent her since he hadn’t had any prior dealings with the other parties. So she’d actually talked to two of them on the phone and only by contrast had she made the decision to meet first with Stan; knowing that if this went to trial the way her attorney was perceived by the jury would reflect on her, his client.
 
She didn’t really know how to evaluate an attorney; there were so many variables to consider. It wasn’t as straight forward as wins versus losses or fee schedules. I mean really, how complex was the case, was it the plaintiff or the defendant he represented? How efficient was he and what kind of return on your investment were you likely to get? Then there’s the matter of how you define a win. Is it a win only if you win every aspect of your client’s case, or is it a win if you bettered your client’s position? And how the heck would a prospective client be able to tell that from the outside looking in?
 
She’d fully expected to talk to Stan Atwood and then go meet with the other attorney before making this important decision, but then she’d met him. He hadn’t yet escorted her to his corner office and she had already decided. She had to have Stan! She’d never met anyone with his energy and enthusiasm. It was obvious he loved his work and he radiated power, success and confidence. Not the fake kind that only looked like money and left you hollow and disappointed with life. Nope, Stan Atwood had created the real thing, success in all the ways that she found important and he was charismatic, a real plus for trial.
 
With arms open wide Stan escorted her into his office. He seated her in front of his large desk and the receptionist brought in the water she had requested along with a napkin and coaster. “I spoke with another attorney and he wanted me to write up a brief description of what happened. It sounded like a good idea, so I’ve done that.” She handed him a couple of sheets of paper.
 
Four years of craziness condensed into a page and a half of typing. She wondered what he would think of the naive way she had handled things, well mishandled things actually. She felt like a fool in hindsight. She wasn’t stupid, but she had made a right mess of this and some of her mistakes were glaring. How could she have been such a fool! She was a lot smarter than most, but you couldn’t tell it by her actions here. Damn, she hated looking like an idiot! Usually she cleaned up her own messes, but this needed a professional. “Ok, Dianne, stop bad mouthing yourself. There are plenty of others willing to do that job for you,” she reminded herself.
 
Stan sat back and read her summery, while she tried to figure out what the lesson was for her. Since she’d gotten herself into this ugly mess she’d better make it count. Making mistakes was one thing, a learning process. Repeating them was just plain stupid, but sure to happen if she didn’t take the time to analyze where she had gone wrong.
 
Paul had done well with stock options from his start up company and had money to invest, but no time. She on the other hand was self employed with the time and flexibility to manage a property. Paul had always wanted to invest in real estate; she preferred the stock and options market. She didn’t like dealing with people, they tended to get on her nerves and piss her off. But now Paul was serious about investing and that was a first, so she had decided to do what she could to help him get started. Well that was her first lesson. Stick to doing what you enjoy! Agreeing to take on tasks she knew she wouldn’t like had never been a success strategy for her.
 
They had searched for a realtor who understood property as an investment and could walk them through it. It wasn’t an easy task. All the realtors they met kept trying to sell them on single family homes or multi-million dollar monstrous apartment complexes. They had done some studying and had decided that what they wanted was a positive cash flow property, hard to come by in the Bay Area, but not impossible. If only they could find someone who would work with a small, first time investor, they weren’t ready for a 70 unit apartment complex. They had talked about going into a bigger building, but Paul had decided that he didn’t want to invest all their money into the first property and then hit the learning curve. Start small, make their mistakes, learn and then move on to bigger and better. They’d made mistakes alright, but not any of the ones she thought they might. That was another lesson; go into a project with positive presuppositions rather than an expectation of failure and loss. She knew better than that, the brain looks for what ever you program into it. Plan to make mistakes and you will, lots of them. Plan to get it right and you’re much more likely to find the help and expertise you need before you make the biggies.

 

 

She knew there were more lessons for her to learn here. She’d need to do a lot more introspection and reviewing to get them, but it would be worth the effort.

© 2008 Dianne


Author's Note

Dianne
This is a rewrite based on some of the reviews that I have recieved, particularly from the Vicious Circle writers.

My Review

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Featured Review

Negative review - VC - (Here goes...)

Overall, you have done a nice job with description but it feels as if you were trying too hard, From the start you give us a general listing of what is in the office, tell us the secretary dressed casually but it does not quite give the feel of luxury. I believe if you gave one or two specifics - describe a particular antique such as the desk, tell us what the secretary was wearing specifically -" a navy skirt and silk blouse from page 42 of the Banana Republic catalog", this would give the reader a better mental picture.

Your description of Stan is much better. Giving details of the suit in specific terms tells us he is used to nice things. I did get a little lost in the comparisons: yogi or mystic/ 50 or 70. Later you us the term British Aristocrat. Personally, I prefer picking one 'family' of terms. Later you say he doesn't miss much; this would be a great time to use an example of how: have him comment on Diane's earrings or perhaps something she is doing to start to give the reader an idea of what sort of trouble she is in.

Much of Dianne is missing from the description as well. How is she dressed - does she feel out of place in the luxurious office? Is she nervous? - how do we know? As she compares Stan to the other attorney in her head, maybe give an example of how the other guy fails to measure up - cranky receptionist, bad hold music. Perhaps even a little info on her summary that would give the reader another clue as to what sort of trouble she is in.

My only compliant with the ending is - it arrived way to soon. I really need to know just what the heck Dianne did and if this smooth guy can get her out of it. Come on real Dianne, spill the beans!!



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Excellent job with the rewrite! You pulled me in with the first paragraph - loved how the main character could envision the luxury as it pertained to her own life. Stan has a much more solid appearance now as well. And the further detail of why she is at the office is great. Would love to see where this is headed... I can see several directions.

Posted 11 Years Ago


I loved it, Dianne. It was a really well written piece, and I think you should continue with it. Maybe since its a legal matter, you could wait until the case wraps up before you write it?
I got a great sense of Stan and the setting, so your descriptions are good. It does sound a bit--only a bit--forced, but that might be because it was a writing exersice. but great job!
N~

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Positive Review- VC
When I read this story, I felt as though we were sitting down and having a conversation over a cup of tea. The writing didn't sound forced in any way.
The detail and descriptions you provided were simply excellent! In fact, based on your descriptions, if I ever needed an attorney, I would want Stan!
You asked how to improve your descriptive style. I don't see anything that needs improvement.


This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Negative review - VC - (Here goes...)

Overall, you have done a nice job with description but it feels as if you were trying too hard, From the start you give us a general listing of what is in the office, tell us the secretary dressed casually but it does not quite give the feel of luxury. I believe if you gave one or two specifics - describe a particular antique such as the desk, tell us what the secretary was wearing specifically -" a navy skirt and silk blouse from page 42 of the Banana Republic catalog", this would give the reader a better mental picture.

Your description of Stan is much better. Giving details of the suit in specific terms tells us he is used to nice things. I did get a little lost in the comparisons: yogi or mystic/ 50 or 70. Later you us the term British Aristocrat. Personally, I prefer picking one 'family' of terms. Later you say he doesn't miss much; this would be a great time to use an example of how: have him comment on Diane's earrings or perhaps something she is doing to start to give the reader an idea of what sort of trouble she is in.

Much of Dianne is missing from the description as well. How is she dressed - does she feel out of place in the luxurious office? Is she nervous? - how do we know? As she compares Stan to the other attorney in her head, maybe give an example of how the other guy fails to measure up - cranky receptionist, bad hold music. Perhaps even a little info on her summary that would give the reader another clue as to what sort of trouble she is in.

My only compliant with the ending is - it arrived way to soon. I really need to know just what the heck Dianne did and if this smooth guy can get her out of it. Come on real Dianne, spill the beans!!



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

This was a very descriptive piece - I could 'see' the characters very well as I read your story. Thank you, I enjoyed it and thought you expressed yourself well :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I also think this is quite good and shows a great deal of promise as a longer story or a book.
others have mentioned the points I was intending to make.

As an exercise in descriptive writing, it is very clear. Imagery is clear, we can see Stan and get a somewhat similar feeling about him, as did Dianne. He seems friendly, genial but also has age, wisdom and experience on his side. I get the feeling that he would be like a cuddly bear to the general public but in the courtroom - watch out, sort of like a terrier and a tiger, hunting the truth and shaking the tree til he gets it. A good friend, maybe a powerful enemy.

As for Dianne, there is little to describe her and yet, we see through her eyes she is inquisitive, she notices minute details, she reads people well, and she does make spot decisions. She can be rather foolhardy in some areas and has an independent streak, usually cleaning up her own mess.

I'd say she has been used by someone she trusted and is feeling quite belittled and unsure of herself - her self esteem has taken a blow, but she is also showing signs of a backbone.

And she knows she needs help.

I really like both the characters here. The worldly attorney, and the, at the moment, a seemingly faceless client.

The future plots here are countless.

A VERY good write. Well done.

jen-JG


This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This was indeed a very descriptive piece, one that takes the reader along with the character, seeing Stan in real life. But who is the faceless main character, do we not get to see her as well?
Well done.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I thought this was really good. There was a lot of descriptions in it and I think it helped the reader get a sense of what was going on. I would loved to have read more. I wanted to know why she was looking for an attorney. It would be a good start to a longer story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Personally, I think there is a fine line between being too descriptive and not descriptive enough. I also think it depends on the situation. In this case, I think you were nearly perfect.

One note I would like to add is that I think you left too much to the imagination as far as actions go. You gave great description of the people and surroundings but when it came to moving them from one room to the next, taking her seat, etc., I would have liked to hear more. Luckily, the rest of your description was enough so that I didn't get lost but it always helps to be a little more explicit on the actions.

Anyway, great job and I look forward to more of your work. You have a writing style that really pulls me in. ;)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is a good start. I wanted to read on to learn more about why the woman was seeking an attorney and her particular interest in Stan Atwood. Descriptive imagery is challenging. I'm always struggling with the details. What I noticed in your story is that there are many descriptions of the attorney: yogi/mystic, dancer, British aristocrat. All are interesting, but very different. To simplify his character, I recommend narrowing down his traits and illustrating him through his actions. Also, as you're building interest it's important to provide some hints about the characters' motivations, even if they are subtle. You mentioned that "Stan Atwood had created the real thing, success in all the ways that she found important." What is important to her? Why is Stan Atwood the man she's gotta have?
I hope my advice is helpful. I look forward to reading more of this story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 6, 2008
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Dianne
Dianne

Livermore, CA



About
I'm a new writer. Oh, I've written stuff for work and such over the years, technical writing, lesson plans, resumes; you know the usual stuff of life. Instead I was always a reader. I read like crazy .. more..

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