Under Analysis . . .

 What’s really in an attorney’s briefcase

Lisa Henderson-Newlin, The Levison Group

One of the main accessories of any lawyer is a briefcase. It’s right up there with bags under the eyes and crippling student loan debt. Personally, I think they should hand them out at graduation, along with a gift certificate for a monthly massage. Those knots in the shoulders from long hours at the computer don’t work themselves out naturally. Trust me on that. I like having a briefcase because it makes me look important. Mine has wheels and I wheel that sucker around every day, looking just like a flight attendant. I’ve actually been asked on multiple occasions what the in-flight lunch special is. (Chicken. I always say chicken.)

Personally, I like the rolling briefcase. I know other attorneys carry theirs, but I don’t like to have to lift or carry anything if I don’t have to. I figure if I have to do work for my job, then I don’t want to simultaneously have to do physical work as well. Plus, I’m awkward and can’t hold a briefcase while also texting and carrying my coffee.

Regardless of which style of briefcase you prefer, I can almost guarantee every lawyer has one. I can also almost guarantee what’s inside every lawyer’s briefcase. So sit back, grab your briefcase and follow along to see how many of these items are currently shoved into that satchel. In no particular order, here they are.

• A note from your secretary telling you to do something that needs to be done but that you despise doing. For me, this note simply tells me to work and stop reading BuzzFeed.

• Five partially used legal pads, each one with varying numbers of pages left.

• Gum. Not in the wrapper, but stuck to a folder or the aforementioned legal pads.

• An old travel coffee mug you thought you put in the dishwasher two weeks ago.

• Accompanying mold and a smell from the aforementioned coffee mug.

• Some of the documents you need, but not that one document you really need. That specific one is on your desk.

• Paperclips. You have no idea how they got there. You will never use them but you won’t take them out of your briefcase either.

• At least seven pens, none of which work.

• Post-it notes. These you actually use randomly, but have to be careful not to use the hot pink ones in front of your colleagues. Those are designated purely for “special” use.

• Tylenol. Lots and lots of Tylenol.

• Parking tickets that totally need to be taken care of.

• Various file documents that may or may not have anything to do with the docket you are currently attending.

• Snacks. Who doesn’t love snacks?

• A stress ball that your wife gave you in the hopes of alleviating stress. It stresses you out to look at because it reminds you that you don’t use it, but probably should.

How did you do? I’m confident at least five of those things are sitting in your briefcase at this very moment. I would encourage you to go clean it out and start over with an empty briefcase, but what’s the fun in that? And those fruit snacks are the only thing that makes a deposition bearable, so throwing them out would be a crime.

I say you skip cleaning out the briefcase and go hit up your monthly massage instead. It’s not only relaxing, but it’s the only acceptable way to take a nap in the middle of the work day.

Don’t forget to bring your briefcase.


Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of The Levison Group.  Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a shareholder of the law firm McAnany, Van Cleave, and Phillips.  She’s a contributing writer at NickMom.com and writes a humor website, LisaNewlin.com. Contact Lisa at lhenderson@mvplaw.com or contact Under Analysis by email at comments@levisongroup.com.

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