I was late when I first met my clients, the Lipkin family, outside my office. I was very late. I couldn't believe I was late.Anyone who can make a US attorney into a sympathetic figure is surely a talented writer - but is he a talented lawyer? Wajahat Ali's first case.
I felt like an imposter. Maybe I was an imposter. I had dressed as professionally as I could: a sophisticated sports jacket, slicked-back gelled hair, elegant briefcase. My straightened posture exuded the charismatic confidence of a seasoned attorney. In my mind, at least.
I extended a hand and introduced myself to a family that was about to have their home foreclosed upon.
I was hoping they would never guess that despite being a licensed attorney two years out of law school, I was utterly paralyzed with fear—and earnestly praying to Allah that my potential clients were not about to call me out as an incompetent charlatan, punch me in the face, storm out of the office, and call the state bar seeking to disqualify me.
I was the guy who was going to save these people from being evicted from their own home? Who was I kidding?
In reality, "my law office" was actually my friend's office, which he'd lent to me so that I could meet these clients. The classy jacket had been purchased at a clearance sale in an outlet store at the Great Mall in Milpitas. The gel was the last remnant of a decaying and potentially expired bottle I'd probably had since college but never found the opportunity to use. The briefcase was a gift from my relatives in Pakistan—who, much like the rest of my family, were thoroughly shocked that I had passed the bar exam and become a licensed attorney. My business cards had been printed for free by Vistaprint, and despite having a professional front side featuring my name in bold letters and the words ATTORNEY AT LAW, the back side glared BUSINESS CARDS ARE FREE AT WWW.VISTAPRINT.COM!