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By:  Lindsay Valek

Y’all are in for a treat today – Lindsay’s back! That is one of my favorite phrases to utter from atop the TPS Mountain (the one covered in blog posts, papers, post-its, and high heels galore). If you watched the series “Breaking Bad” – you are gonna love this.  If you have ever found yourself sprinting around the courtroom in a day’s work – you are gonna love this. If you have a pulse – you are gonna love this! Okay, we can’t quite guarantee that last one, but if you don’t smirk at least once while reading today’s wildly creative post, I would promptly call the coroner and begin digging that departure ditch for the damned.

Well what are you waiting on? Keep reading!

Reprinted with permission from Lindsay Valek, as previously published at: http://nclawyersweekly.com/paralegal/2013/11/20/the-courtroom-version-of-breaking-bad/

In a moment of weakness last month I broke down and subscribed to Netflix, a personal abomination considering I swore off cable two years ago and only recently acquired a microwave. Seventy-two sleep deprived hours later, I now belong in a rehab facility: “Hello, my name is Lindsay Valek and I have an unhealthy addiction to Jesse Pinkman.”

Hank is getting shot in the parking lot and the old guy who rings the bell is getting a visit from Gustavo, perilously unknowing that his wheelchair has been fitted with a bomb. I hit pause to take inventory: Three wine bottles, a bag of Doritos and 726 empty cans of purple Fanta. My hair is a hot mess and no amount of Visine on the planet could take away the protruding vessels crisscrossing the white of my eyes. I’m hungry because the cool ranch spice mix at the bottom of the Doritos bag can only sustain human beings for so long. When my mother rings to ask about updating her iPhone, I lash out: “Can’t you see I’m busy! Don’t EVER call me again!”

It’s not every day that I compare the life of a paralegal to that of a fugitive meth cook gallivanting through the desert in a 1976 Winnebago, but then again, it is and I do. This is exactly what happens to a paralegal when a case goes to trial.

Now let’s get a few things straight. First, I do not condone nor promote the manufacture, use or distribution of methamphetamine. Second, I fully admit I have an unhealthy relationship with Aaron Paul’s character Jesse Pinkman (people have been arrested for the thoughts I harbor towards him).

With that out of the way, congratulations, your case has been given a date certain! The dread creeps over your body as the next three months of your life dissolve before your eyes. Just like Walt’s cancer diagnosis, you begin to ponder the meaning of life and how you will survive without murdering everyone you love (assuming that you’re allowed to contact them). Once the initial shock wears off you begin to assess your course of action. Don’t feel sorry for yourself – FIGHT! Get prepared, organize and prepare to do battle. For Walt, this meant shaving his head and cooking methamphetamine. For you it can go one of two ways: Should you choose to go GI Jane on your boss, I give you mad props, although I highly advise against the manufacture of illegal substances route, so let’s find a healthy alternative, shall we?

Let’s create witness files! And exhibit notebooks and supply boxes and deposition designations and travel itineraries and legal research files indexed by name and subject matter. Let’s lay out our binder clips, highlighters, pens, notebooks, legal pads, and rule books.

Now gaze upon the assembled trial paraphernalia. You feel it don’t you? You’re smiling like a deranged Walter White as he examines his shiny new lab equipment with which to create Blue Sky. This is your dominion. Each and every piece of paper is a compilation that you made. It is by your hands and yours alone that each perfectly labeled manila folder exists. So what if your husband is about to leave you and your children hate your guts because they haven’t laid eyes on you in six weeks? It is a splendid spectacle neither your boss nor your friends are capable of understanding. You’ve never felt more alive…or more alone.

As the witching hour (trial) grows near you begin acting suspicious. You take phone calls in the middle of the night from attorneys with names like “Saul Goodman.” You purchase a burner phone at the decrepit gas station on your way out of town when you discover that Verizon does not, in fact, have you covered in the New Mexico desert. You’re jittery and on edge, refusing to let anyone near the trunk of your Pontiac Aztek for fear they may discover your panache for hoarding expandos, dry erase markers and other items the office supply room seems to be missing.

In the first few days of trial, you’re kicking ass and taking names like Gustavo Fring. Exhibits are flying seamlessly into the hands of each juror and you’ve placed yourself in the perfect position to hand an extra copy to the law clerk (brownie points SCORE!). The Jimmy Johns delivery guy texts you on your burner phone at 8:30 for the day’s lunch orders which are promptly delivered at 11:00 so no downtime is incurred and you’re banking almost enough overtime to begin stacking your money in your crawl space. It’s all running like clockwork…or is it?

Just beneath the surface the silent effects of trial are beginning to take their toll on your body. Meanwhile, Walt’s cancer has returned and like him, you can’t bring yourself to tell anyone that you have a raging 102 fever and are experiencing bladder complications due to holding it for so long. At midnight your attorney knocks on your hotel room door. Additional exhibits have been added by co-counsel and you must make more. “Nooooooooo!” You crumple to the floor as your wails echo through the hall of a dingy hotel frequented by the likes of Wendy, the town prostitute. Your boss, the equivalent of Mike Ehrmantraut, stares at you cold and unfeeling. “Just deal with it,” he sneers.

After closing arguments Monday morning, you ring your husband for a quiet moment of reconnection. He’s been called away for Beneke business and has enlisted Grandma Marie and Grandpa Hank to take the kids for their protection and safety. A twinge of jealousy seers your already swollen throat. He’ll be traveling with Skylar, the pretty girl from accounting. You take twice the recommended dose of DayQuil and drag a brush through the pathetic rat nest you once called hair. Your malnutrition from subsisting on stale Nip Chees is causing it to fall out in clumps and you may even cough up blood once or twice but there’s no time for that during trial, now is there? Pull yourself together.

I get that you feel as though your soul mate just died from a massive OD next to you as you slept off a trial hangover but that’s no excuse for driving around Durham tossing bricks of money onto strangers’ doorsteps. You’re beginning to lose it and the jury will be back any moment now and you’ve got a choice to make.

As the cartel enters the courtroom, you silently wonder which one would be best to take out. Who poses the biggest threat and which member of the co-counsel party degraded your intelligence one too many times? You fondle the ricin cigarette beneath the table as you take mental inventory of who deserves it most. Your boss? Co-counsel? Juror No. 6? Your husband or that pretty tramp Skylar? Grandpa Hank or that annoying hotel clerk Lydia who constantly forgets to leave the methylamine (i.e. mints) in your bedroom. Who shall it be? Is the plastic barrel ready?

As you snap out of your mental montage of revenge you realize the parties are conferencing in the judge’s chambers. What’s happening? God I hope Todd buried the money in time.

They’re coming back in now. The case has settled. Fan-damn-tastic! Burn everything, leave no trace and get back home to watch Season 5.

Lindsay Valek is a litigation support specialist and paralegal in Columbia, South Carolina. She can be reached at lindsayvalek@hotmail.com

_____

I have never binge-watched a television show. 

Okay, okay, I’m totally lying. I, too, have a Netflix and HBO-on-Demand addiction, people. I would like to hereby indicate my preference for a rehab facility located on the sunny isle of Hawaii. (Heck, after the coldest Indiana winter since 1979, I’ll even take Cali, Florida or anywhere else where water remains in liquid form.) Sign me up!

We’d love to hear what you loved about today’s post, or in the alternative, all of the juicy details of your own binge-watching moments at their finest: your favorite binge-worthy shows, key snacks of choice, and the number of hours you are willing to confess to publicly in one sitting. Whatever it is – we are down to hear it. Hit that comment button and tell us about it!

Don’t eat too much chocolate. Happy V-Day! We’ll see you soon.