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Give thanks in 2020? Objection, Your Honour | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, October 09, 2020 @ 2:48 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
“Thank you. Thank you very much." I doubt even the King, Elvis, were he around, could say it and mean it this Thanksgiving.

Can we lawyers? Is there anything we can be thankful for? Maybe?

One that comes to mind is privacy. Just when we thought it was all eroded, we now have the pleasure of not congregating with anybody, especially at home. This Thanksgiving we shall be celebrating with only the members of our household, in my case namely my wife, myself and the turkey. I suppose I can say the latter is part of my bubble. Speaking of which this pandemic has certainly taken the song, “I’m forever blowing bubbles,” to a new dimension. Unfortunately, these days we are limited in the bubbles we can have. This song incidentally came out in 1918. Coincidence?

Another matter we can give thanks for is the reopening of the courts. Whatever that means. Resumption of jury trials here but not there, state of health questionnaires you have to score green on to get through the front door, limitation of numbers of people who can enter. Maybe these, especially the latter, are good things. Are the courthouses half full, or half empty? We can be optimists and for a change, say they are half empty. And that also means there should be no shortage of toilet paper. 

For that matter if you can still visit a courthouse, your chances are better than ever of finding a parking spot. How many times have you circled around the parking lot in a rush to find a spot when some guy comes out of nowhere and grabs it? You may have uttered something like, “A plague on his house.” No need to do that now. Your wish has been fulfilled.

To boot the price of gas to get you to that courthouse has plummeted. Say thank you.

And what about all those courtesies lawyers practise in live contact, many of which we don’t mean?

One is a handshake. For over 40 years in my litigation practice, I shook the hand of a number of opposing counsel who were condescending, ruthless and boorish. I would sooner have shaken hands with Genghis Khan. We can now be thankful that this routine practice has gone the way of the dining room buffet. And the dodo bird. (At least that turkey is still with us.) 

Then there is the courtroom ritual of bowing down to the judge upon entering or leaving the courtroom. I have reluctantly faked bows to judges who have torpedoed my hard-worked-on cases, uttering painful verdicts such as, “Your action is dismissed with costs.”

No disrespect intended but to me a bow is a solemn event, I might occasionally perform, especially to show gratitude. For example, I enjoy a good mug of beer. I have on occasion after taking a few sips of a great brew bowed in the direction of Milwaukee. 

Now we can all choose our bows selectively. Thank you very much.

Have I mentioned Zoom? I thought so. Think of all the pluses of doing business from the comfort of your own home study. If you have a court motion, you don’t have worry about putting on that robe. I often had to stressfully scramble just before court time, to change attire as I could not find a vacant locker. Usually the last one was snatched by that clown who also took my parking spot.

Now with Zoom, no need to change. You can wear, (or not), whatever you wish. Another privacy perk. Nor do you have to shake hands with any adversary you dislike. With virtual events, your hand gestures are fully discretionary.

And whenever I want, I can fix myself a cup of my favourite Lavazza espresso. This one is worth bowing for in the direction of Italy.

And so, are there things we can be thankful for this Thanksgiving? I suppose. At least we have more to cheer about than the turkeys do.

Hopefully, a year from now the landscape will be a bit more like the old normal. Hopefully, we shall all be able to sing a happy tune. Maybe “I’m forever blowing bubbles, as many as I wish.”

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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