Preliminary investigation: Be a gumshoe

Seeing a project through to completion requires a certain amount of obsessiveness. – Michael Westen, July 14, 2011

You’re ready to become a private investigator (a/k/a PI), with you as your first client. It’ll elevate your pre-litigation mood to cast yourself as a professional snoop or spy – a gumshoe.

You might want to develop a heroic character for yourself, such as Sam Spade or Erin Brockovich or Nick or Nora (or Asta, for that matter). Or George Smiley. Miss Marple? Martin Beck. Or maybe Russell Crowe as real-life whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider.

I’d stay away from noir characters (lawsuits can get noir enough) and action heroes like Jack Reacher (violent) or James Bond (dangerous), except for that one cool tech tool of the Hi Spy trade, the spy recorder. Which I told you about previously in the Investigation stage, under How I became a plaintiff: I spy.

If your bad situation is ongoing, carry the tape recorder around with you. Even if you don’t capture a damning conversation (I’m having trouble picturing how you could interrupt someone who’s being offensive – “Excuse me, can you pause a sec while I turn on my little recorder which I have here in my bag, oops and, oh yeah, here let me stick this teeny mike down your throat, there we go, please continue to disparage me or grab my tits and make repulsive noises”), you can immediately thereafter go to the bathroom and record your own specific memory of the conversation, with date and time.

When you’re home, leave the recorder next to your phone, in case you get a damning phone call. Record all evil messages.

Transcribe all taped material and add the transcript to your chronologically filed documents. Enter this information into your time line and keep your recorded tapes, properly labeled, in your new lawsuit binder.

Coming up, more intense investigation.

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