A Few Words Before Dessert
California Lawyer
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A Few Words Before Dessert

by Nate Zuckerman

April 2013

OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: April 1, 2013, 8:30 p.m.

Thank you, Bar President Hodgkins, for that kind introduction. I'd like to thank all of you for joining us tonight. In this ... lovely ballroom.

[Pause]

It's an honor to be here and an even greater honor to have the ...privilege of introducing tonight's honoree, before we all tuck into dessert. When I was told that the Western Regional Beverly Hills Bar Association wanted me to offer a few remarks at its annual Lawyer of the Year Awards, I was ... confused, to be honest. At first I thought that I might have won, or even been nominated for the Lawyer of the Year. Which was, of course ... misadvised.

As it turns out, I was being asked to speak briefly about this year's Lawyer of the Year, my partner. Well, technically, I'm not a partner, so not my partner per se, but a partner in the firm - my firm - of which I am an associate. I mean - I'm sorry, that didn't make any sense - the firm where I am an associate and he's a partner. Right. OK.

[Pause]

Ha! You know what? Let's just start over. We're here tonight to honor a ... special man. A man who has the reputation for closing more billion-dollar-plus deals at our firm than any other partner. Including several that I've had the ... honor of assisting over the past eight years.

[Longer pause. Coughing in audience.]

I'm sorry, it's just ... It's just that word, you know? Assisting. Funny word. Funny how when you're fresh out of law school, you think "assisting" a famous partner - an award-winning partner - is an honor. Funnier still how you think assisting means just that: assistance. As in helping out. Not as in doing the lion's share of the work. Not as in staying at the office till four in the morning every night, every week, every goddamn month, for the better part of your twenties and early thirties while a sadist figurehead takes all the credit for your efforts, until your wife finally leaves you last Thursday, for a massage therapist. A massage therapist.

[Silence]

Ha! Wow. I guess this, uh, got a little off track. I'm so sorry. So sorry. You don't even know. And now you're all ... looking at me. Huh. Kind of like facing a firing squad up here, isn't it? Hmm. There's another fun word: Firing. I guess I'm going to be hearing a bit more of that after tonight, yeah?

Can I get a glass of water up here? Anyone? No?

[Silence]

OK. Well, you know what, if there's one thing our esteemed Lawyer of the Year taught me, it's to plow ahead. And for that alone, he deserves this award.

Take my first back-to-back-to-back all-nighter. On hour 80 or so without sleep, I had a seizure. Did our Lawyer of the Year call an ambulance? Send me home? Come on, people. He told me about the first time he had a seizure after a marathon stretch.

What's that? Oh, our Lawyer of the Year is signaling that he wants me to wrap it up. OK. Well, I'm good at that, right? Hell, that's what I do best, isn't it? Doesn't matter what's going on. Doesn't matter if it's a weekend, or my birthday, or my wedding anniversary, or the birth of my first kid.

Just ask our Lawyer of the Year. Missing the arrival of your firstborn isn't anything to whine about, he'll tell you. And hey, he'll say, just wait until that second marriage, wink, wink. Kid won't recognize you anyway.

[Pause]

Of course not. But I guess you all will. And of course it's because of you that we're really here, isn't it? You and the gold-plated carrot of your approval, engraved with our name, and a chicken dinner to boot. Well, here's to you, fellow Western Regional Beverly Hills Lawyers. Viva YOU! Viva Western Regional Beverly Hills Lawyers Awards! Viva WRBHLA! Come on, join me! Viva WRBHLA!

[Silence]

No? No takers? Is this even billable? Not sure? OK, well, are any of you hiring? No? Ha! Oh god, eight years! Well, do any of you need a massage? Anyone? I know a great massage thera -

[Speaker passes out. Dessert is served.]

Nate Zuckerman is a pseudonym for a senior associate at a large Southern California law firm.

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