This is true reward. The verdict – twenty million dollars for our clients – would not translate to immediate riches for me, but it did mean the pressure was off. Not just for now, but for the foreseeable future. The partners would already have the actuaries telling them what the firm could demand immediately and whether our odds were better settling now or grinding through the appeal process. No matter for me. I had done what I was asked to do and there would be no second guessing about that. I may not have completely understood everything about how the firm management worked, but this much was clear – nobody argued with winning at trial. No matter how many lawyers might have graduated ahead of me, or had better family connections, somebody has to have what it takes to stand up in front of that jury and make them love our clients and hate the defendants. Not just anybody can do that, and, given that Jim Stanley was past his prime, nobody else in my firm could. Because circumstances had put me in the first chair and because my witnesses had delivered and, yes, because I had gutted it out and found the inspiration for that closing argument, I had arrived. I was valuable now, if not indispensable to the firm, and my opinion and input would matter.
I breathed deeply for the first time in years.
Susan and the girls were flying out tonight for a visit to her folks in Marco Island, Florida. They all deserved that, Susan had been patient, not only through the three weeks of trial, but for the preceding four years of nervous insecurity about my position at the firm. But I would not be flying with them. It was understood that all was well between us, but it was also understood how thoroughly exhausted I was and how much I needed to be alone for a few days.