Newly minted J-A, Esq., at your service
I woke up in the morning with a sinus headache. The birds outside my window kept up a cacaphony of bizarre tunes as I tossed and turned before finally getting out of bed at the sound of the alarm.
In contrast, the office was quiet when I got in. I sat down and filled out my registration form, then realised I had forgot to bring in my cheque book to pay for the registration fee. One of the papers said I should have sent in the cheque before
the swearing in ceremony today, anyway. I panicked, then called M., who did not pick up his phone. Then I had a brainwave.
"Hey, are you awake?" I asked T. T. is a friend of mine who lives nearby the office, and is an LLM student.
"Not really. I am now. What's up?" he asked.
"I need a cheque. For 350 dollars. Now. Well, before my swearing in ceremony. I can give you the money in cash. Can you come up to my office?" I said.
"OK." Luckily, T. is also a former lawyer, so he knows what I mean when I say 'now' (i.e. within the next five minutes). M. called back.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I don't have a cheque to pay for my registration fee, " I said.
"You can come by my office. I can write you a cheque," he said. Me go to M's office versus T. coming to my office? I decided it was easier to wait for T. He called five minutes later.
"I'm downstairs," he said.
"What are you doing around twelve o'clock?" I asked.
Which is how for my swearing in ceremony as a New York attorney I had T. join my other friend S., who is visiting from Hong Kong, to attend as my guests. The courthouse was completely packed from the stairs outside but the guard saw me pushing through.
"Are you here to be admitted?" he asked.
"Yes," I said.
"Congratulations and it's through those doors," he said as he pushed away the guests who were blocking the entrance. I walked in through the heavy wooden double doors to find myself inside a ceremonial court, complete with stained-glass Art Deco ceiling lit up with dozens of amber coloured bulbs, dark wood panels framing the walls and washed out pastel frescos detailing the names of eminent judges. I sat down in a stuffed chair, one of many lined up in front of the bench and quickly filling up with attorneys-to-be. No one asked me about when I had sent in the cheque.
"Who are you having as your guests?" I asked the man in the expensive suit and Rolex next to me. He smiled, and I realised he was much younger than I had thought him to be.
"My parents, uh, and oh, there's my aunt and uncle," he said, as he waved. I waved to T. and S. like a child whose parents are attending the school play. They grinned back. There were so many guests most of them ended up standing behind the spectators' galley. We all rose for the judges - four old men and a woman - as they quietly filed in. The secretary of the committee on character and fitness tabled a motion for us to be sworn in as attorneys.
"Normally we retire to consider the merits of such a motion, but since I can see from your faces the anxiety that would cause, we grant your motion," the judge said, and the guests, the lawyers, and the bailiffs relaxed into laughter.
"No photographs!" the old bailiff said, seconds before the attorneys-to-be stood up en masse to hold up their right hand and repeat after the court clerk, "I solemnly swear I will uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of New York as an attorney and counsellor at law to the best of my abilities."
"Attorneys, sit down." The bailiff declared it as such, and so we were - a newly minted batch of attorneys. We were reminded briefly of our new status while the guests were told to get out of the courtroom first.
"Congratulations," I shook hands with the new attorneys on both my left and right. We beamed at each other for a brief second before heading out to the hall, where the gathered friends and family greeted us with applause.
"Can I have my phone back?" I said to T. as soon as I found him and S. standing outside on the white steps. They both glared at me.
"What?" I asked.
!" they said.
"Oh, that. Yeah. Thanks," I said. I called M. to tell him I'd succeeded in becoming a New York attorney for real.
We had a leisurely three course meal with a bottle of chenin blanc. The partner working with me congratulated me on being sworn in, but politely failed to mention my flushed cheeks, as I discussed the deal with him four hours later.