Ninety percent of lawyering is conversation…[The other ten percent is] mostly beating up robots.” Jennifer Walters
Okay, I didn’t get a blood transfusion from Bruce Banner, I’m not green, nor am I that strong, but I am a lawyer! And, like Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk’s alter ego), I left a big firm to go smaller. My departure wasn’t quite as dramatic (no tables were destroyed) and I joined a small boutique firm instead of going solo, but some of the challenges are the same (I just wish I could find some office space as cool as hers!).
The perks of going smaller can be big, as life as an associate in biglaw (as we call life at the big firms) can be a grind, with long hours worked and health destroyed. Like She-Hulk at the beginning of Episode 1, many associates work those long hours in the hopes of getting a big bonus (bonuses are a bit of an obsession for biglaw associates), which they need to pay off their massive law school debt. So leaving biglaw can be a scary but liberating experience.
These similarities were the reason I started reading the new She-Hulk storyline, which I first learned about in the ABA Journal. Josh has already discussed some other She-Hulk issues in the current storyline, but my favorite story to date was right there in the very first episode: the patent lawsuit with Iron Man.
Welcome to the world of IP litigation. While patent troll plaintiffs are a problem, so too are big companies that can overwhelm individual inventors with armies of lawyers (from biglaw!), mountains of motions, and enormous ediscovery productions. Patent litigation is an expensive mess, even as DC tries to correct some of the worst of the problems (with questionable success).
Jennifer Walters, in her patent lawsuit, still had to deal with a creepy defense attorney, overwhelming litigation defense strategies, and other standard legal obstacles. But, unlike most lawyers, she also had to fight Tony Stark’s robots. Of course, she’s She-Hulk so she was able to deal with the robots with minimal problems.
She then circumvented Stark’s counsel by talking to Iron Man directly. While it’s cool that she’s friends with Tony and (spoiler alert!) was able to talk sense into him about her client’s claim to the disputed invention, she violated a California State Bar Rule of Professional Conduct by speaking to directly to the opposing party about the lawsuit. Under California’s rules (and the rules of most – if not all – states), a lawyer can’t speak directly to the opposing party about the lawsuit if the opposing party has an attorney unless the opposing party’s attorney consents to the communication.
I’m pretty certain Stark’s attorney didn’t okay the communication, which means he could file a complaint with the state bar about Walters’ violation of the rules of professional conduct. But, as we know, superheroes don’t always have to follow all the rules we mere mortals are bound by!
She-Hulk is probably the first comic book that I can relate to at least a little, even if (once again) she is a better-dressed lawyer than I am. Now if they just added in some kids so she had to juggle work, family, and being a superhero, I would truly be able to identify with her!