No one has extra time during the holidays. Nonetheless, twice this past December, TLC alumni came forward to help me on the case that keeps me up at night. 

December is my favorite month of the year. This past year, however, though, I told my friends I’d need a “holiday waiver.” I had to file the last two of four responses to motions to dismiss in the most difficult case on my calendar. So, no Milwaukee party week, no tree and office Christmas party, no Chicago Christmas shopping – I’d be writing. 

Our schizophrenic client was raped repeatedly by her social worker. He told police the “encounters” occurred eleven to twelve times. Those rapes resulted in a child, whom the social worker then kept sua sponte. I represent the client in a civil rights lawsuit against the social worker and four of his colleagues.

Early in December, Shawn McMillan (TLC 2010.1), spent an afternoon walking through the case with me and tutoring me about CPS-related civil rights litigation. Seeing the hustle-bustle of his office, he clearly had no time to spare.  He gave it to me anyway. I wish I could say I am a quick study. I am so grateful for Shawn’s time, caring, and patience. 

My mind spinning from all of the information Shawn gave me, I then had to put it into something coherent. I sent an email to Arizona TLC alumni offering what I could in exchange for an afternoon of helping me: “This is so important, I WILL BAKE if you help us!”  

Upon my meager offering, lawyers in our local TLC group, Bob Hommel (TLC 2012.2), Victoria Washington (Death Penalty College), Janet Margrave and Steve Wallin, gave their Friday-before-Christmas afternoon to help me.  I brought my “fruitcake for people who hate fruitcake” and filled turnover cookies (my mom’s recipe). They, along with my firm’s associate, Shannon Peters Schear (TLC 2012.1), brought their full commitment to the work.

We don’t usually consider applying TLC methods when we write and we should.  Here, brainstorming and discovering a story I already knew well helped me tell our client’s story with more feeling and less technical detachment. I wrote from my heart, even within the strict procedural confines of a federal 12(b)(6) brief. 

Most importantly, when things felt most dreary and I was exhausted from writing these complex briefs, my TLC brothers and sisters reminded that we do not fight alone. Their passion for justice for my client – a woman they (other than Shannon) had never met in a city 1,500 miles away – continues to inspire me. I am so grateful to have these fellow Warriors in my life.