Friday, June 08, 2007

Mother's law practice

Most of her clients were poor--either African Americans recently from the south or white people from the hills of West Virginia--also recently.

Many of her clients settled arguments by breaking a beer bottle and attacking their opponents with the broken part of same. But some of them had done other things, not all of them legal. The woman who came to clean her house had shot her husband, whereas the guy who mowed the lawn had kited checks.

I don't think any of them were hardened criminals. For the most part, they were country people who had a tough time adjusting to the mores of the big city. Their propensity to try to cure their troubles with the aid of a few drinks didn't help.

But they adored her. They named their children after her. They would show up at the office and ask for her by name. If she wasn't there they left. They seemed to think she had some kind of legal magic which would cure their problems. She was also a soft touch. Sometimes money went from lawyer to client instead of in the other direction. For this reason, as well as the fact that her fee schedule hadn't changed since the Eisenhower administration, she did not become rich.

She needed them as much as they needed her, and she was always there for them. A sample phone conversation:

10:30 p.m., Saturday night
Client: Miss Goldie, Fred is in trouble.
Mother: What happened?
Client: He's in jail!
Mother: When did they arrest him?
Client: Thursday afternoon.
Client: Can you get him out?
Mother: I'll do my best.

And she did.

2 comments:

airforcewife said...

Those are some big shoes for the world to fill.

miriam said...

What you have to know is that she was a chubby little lady with skinny legs and thick glasses who had to wear high heels to reach 5 feet.

A far cry from the babes on Law and Order.