On Annulment, Commissioner’s Hearing, and Court Staff Kindness

July 24 to July 28, 2017 is my third week of work in a Makati full service firm. I was tasked to interview a client regarding an annulment case that he wishes to file. My boss made me dig deep into his life and the cause of his marital problems. Persons and Family Relations law was my favorite civil law subject. I aced my Final exams in first year of law school and I was so proud of that. Right now though, I had to dig deep into someone else’s life: infidelity, drug addiction and ungratefulness included. Our client has such a colorful life. He sensed that I was new but he was not condescending and he still assumed that I know what I was doing. I submitted the summary to my boss and days later, he told me that he liked it.

This week, I was exposed to so much schedule changes. I guess this is what its really like to work in a full service firm. Every partner can ask you to work. I was supposed to accompany a Junior Associate to follow up a request for a Bureau of Internal Revenue ruling and attend a mediation the following day, what I ended up doing instead: attend my first Commissioner’s hearing (before the Clerk of Court), marking the evidence (a step before pre-trial) and my first supposed court appearance for a motion for writ of execution.

In the Commissioner’s hearing, I was briefed by the previous handling lawyer. Apparently, my client has lost all the original documents and still tries to justify it. The trick is in telling him that the loss of such documents, in a criminal case at that, is prejudicial to him, but without making him panic and not letting the other party know of this detriment against us. So, after the marking of the documents before the Clerk of Court, the opposing counsel and his client discussed and thereafter, made the bargaining with us.

It started all well and good but later on, the shouting began. They wanted us to make a counter-offer, whereas they were the ones who did not make a written reply to our offer. Should they make their “counter-offer” first? The opposing counsel started raising his voice at me. All I said was, “Shhhh…Please chill.” as we were already on the hallway of the courthouse. I went back to the office after the incident. The senior associates and the handling partner told me to “Fight back, next time.” I should really stop thinking that I suck. Yes, I am a new lawyer but I am a professional and I will learn the things that they know too.

The writ of execution is another fun story. My boss is notorious for assigning lawyers to cases without giving them a docket. We really think on our feet. So, I was assigned to go to court for a motion for writ of exection. At the same time, a random client called (our somewhat stupid) secretary telling her that he has a case in a so-and-so court. The secretary did not get any other details from their brief conversation except for the caller’s name. Since the court houses in the same city are generally housed in the same building, I was asked by the senior associate to appear for both the motion for writ of execution, and this new mystery case. I almost cried. Fortunately, another new associate agreed to appear in the mystery case.

When I got to the court, I learned that there was already a writ and there is no need for a motion. Our firm just needs to talk to the sheriff, which the court staff gladly handed the phone number of. Regarding the mystery case assigned to my colleague, we had to go around the office of the clerk of court of both the Metropolitan Trial Court and the Regional Trial Court, and finally, the prosecutor’s office, before we learned that….guess what? It’s the same case. The client who called, where the stupid secretary answered, is merely following up the motion for writ of execution. It was fun nonetheless. My colleague and I had a nice time roaming around the courts, checking their calendar, the clerk of court offices and the prosecutor’s office. We had a fun story to tell at the office and surprisingly, no one was rude to us.

Later on, we were told that court employees are generally nicer to lawyers. I don’t know. It seems unfair. I don’t consider myself any different from a random person. I just happened to stay in school longer. Whether or not that extra time in the confines of the classroom, is put to good use, will be up to what I do with my license.

Let’s see.

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