Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Twelve Angry Men

Photo courtesy Bill Ledbetter, licensed CC-BY-NC-SA

Today was the second time in two days that I had to be in a courtroom, arguing things. 

Back in the dark times before I started working out (like early January, 2012), I was so out of shape that I had a lot of trouble with asthma and difficulty walking distances or standing for long (or even short) periods of time.  When I had to go to court I was always severely compromised - I would be out of breath if I were called upon to speak, and if I walked to the courthouse, my face would be an alarming hot-pink colour for the first 30 minutes of the hearing.  I've actually had people give me strange looks because they thought I was about to stroke out right in front of them - - not a great way to instill confidence, for sure.

Fortunately, my court robes are voluminous, and black is a flattering colour on almost anyone.  Perhaps less fortunately, they are also a wool-blend, which means that in the summer they are hot like the surface of the sun, and if I sweat (as I always do), I end up smelling like a damp sheep by the end of the day. 

Yesterday I had to gown up and argue a motion in front of a judge and a roomful of lawyers (also gowned) who were waiting their turn.  I was nervous as hell because up to now I have been more of a solicitor than a barrister in that I have done more behind the scenes in the law office than in the courtroom.  Add to that the fact that I am naturally shy, and you can imagine how nervous I was waiting my turn to speak. 

To top it off, the judge took the opportunity to lecture me before agreeing to my request - what a way to start the week!

Today was another day in court, but this time I was in front of a Master rather than a Judge, so I did not need to gown.  However this was my first contested motion, so it was the first time I had to go head to head against another lawyer, and one more senior and experienced than me to boot. 

In each case, I noticed something interesting.  I was nervous, sure.  I had shaky hands, but that is normal for me.  I was hot in my robes yesterday, but so was everyone - there were 30 of us in that room and it is high summer. 

What I did not notice was my wheezing asthma, or my bright pink face, or my uncontrollable nerves.  Sure, my heart rate was elevated a bit when I first got into the courtroom each day, but it came down to a normal resting heart rate very quickly.  And this made a huge difference when I was actually making my arguments before the Judge and Master, because I actually felt - and looked - calm.

All of this new zenlike approach to litigation is directly thanks to all of that work on the elliptical trainer.  I do 35 minutes 6 days a week - even today, when I had to race to make sure I had everything ready for court.  And do you know what?  I felt good.  I am actually looking forward to seeing how my improved fitness and cardio helps me as I do ever increasing amounts of litigation.  I never thought that cardio could have such beneficial side-effects, but there you have it.

Missed my planned walking training last night because I was in the office until 2.30 am working on this motion, and I have a volunteer meeting for the Assaulted Women's Helpline this evening, so my (slightly delayed) walk training will have to be in the romantic evening light.  I will let you know how it goes. 

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