Week 4 2018

Things Get Serious

Things Get Serious

This week’s blog starts out with a story, but I promise it will all tie together. This past spring, I decided to take Employment Law. The benefits seemed obvious: (1) the professor is one of my favorites at the law school; (2) I’d be externing at the District Court that semester and federal courts handle tons of employment law; and (3) I knew that RK also dealt with a lot of employment law. Whether I’d actually enjoy the subject matter wasn’t something I really considered going in to it. So it was a nice surprise when I learned that I actually really like employment law! And, I’d like to think I’m not completely terrible at it. As the semester wound down and I was preparing for the exam, I was running down the list of topics we’d covered. Agency and independent contractors, at-will v. for-cause employment, various forms of employment discrimination, etc.  I remember thinking that of all the topics we’d covered, the one thing I really, really, really hoped didn’t show up on the exam was disparate impact. After all, exams are all about efficiency and how well you use the limited time you have to address the issues you’ve been given. A disparate impact problem would demand a significant amount of that time. I was quite relieved, then, when disparate impact was not on the exam and I was instead only required to analyze easy stuff. You know, fun things like single- and mixed-motive disparate treatment. 

So why the long preamble? Because I spent this last week eyeballs deep in disparate impact stuff. Turns out, it’s a lot of work! And it’s really hard! Who knew?!? Sorting through the various issues on this case was…trying to say the least, and it seemed like every time I had a handle on something out popped another case to prove me wrong. I described it like trying to fight a hydra last week, and as I was discussing it with one of the partners this week, we laughed about how it’s like playing an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole. And that was all before I had to try and understand the various stats being thrown around. I’ve spent a lot of time recently shaking my fist angrily at the ceiling and muttering about how I specifically chose law school to avoid math.

Now that I’ve gotten all the whining out of the way, let me tell you why I actually feel incredibly lucky to be working on this case. Because it is singlehandedly the most difficult legal assignment I’ve had to do in my (admittedly short) career. Because having to use every tool in my tool belt and really test how good my research skills are was an absolute joy. Because being pushed to your limit is the best way to learn how much you know about something. And because nothing good in life comes easy. This case has shown me why choosing RK was the right call, because I’ve seen how serious the attorneys working on it are. I got to sit in on a conference call with Nicole Smith, Dan Gerber, and Samantha Duke last week and it was awesome listening to them take what our expert witness was throwing out (which sounded like a foreign language to me) and see them work it into our legal arguments in real time. I’ve seen how the strategy on this case has evolved as we feel out the issues and shape our plan of attack. And I’m even more confident now that we’re going to win. 

Also, the World Cup started last week. Not really RK-related, but it only comes around every four years and it’d feel remiss to not mention it. And to not mention the glaring absence of the US team, because of our abject failure to qualify because we couldn’t get a single, measly point in the games against Trinidad and Tobago. Am I still salty about it? No, of course not. Why do you ask?