I’d like to thank Congress for something since I haven’t done that lately. Congress exists so something can be hated more than lawyers.
People often despise lawyers, and I sympathize with that to a certain extent. Our work can be simple, but it can be really technical and hard to explain to someone who isn’t a lawyer. Some really smart lawyers I know are not that good at talking to normal people. Also, some lawyers just aren’t very good but still charge a lot.
But why are there so many dang lawyer jokes compared to other professions? Unlike Congress, lawyers are viewed more favorably than cochroaches in major national polls. Surely besting the mighty cochroach should earn me a few seconds of your time to perhaps influence your perspective? Right? Come on…
Being a good lawyer means different things to different lawyers. For me, it means I am always working. Otherwise, I can’t keep up. I’ll be eating dinner and running case facts through my head without even trying to. It just happens. I basically am always multitasking. I can process half a dozen ongoing conversations at the same time. I actually can’t really help NOT doing that. I take in an enormous amount of information and still go out each day knowing I could know more, and I could do better – so I kick myself to go do that. Heck, yesterday I found a new legal resources that could have helped me before.
I say with absolutely no irony that starting my firm was a beautiful decision. I say that despite being so broke my first year I maxxed out credit cards and was one contract term away from enrolling in the Army so I could put my Arabic training to use. (They kept deleting the 50k benefit for student loan forgiveness and telling me to sign anyways, that was a deal breaker. I asked them how to they expect me to be a decent officer and show leadership if I can’t even negotiate getting what the government says I am entitled to under the current incentive program. Off the record one of the officers admitted this was a pretty solid point….) Anyways, to get by, I built computers, I maxxed out credit cards, I worked as a realtor – it was hard. I took many pro bono cases, but then a client got sent to me that was making $120k. I was probably going to pull in 1/6 of that my first year, so I was frankly insulted they would seek my free help. I stopped taking pro bono cases from that placement group, but I continue to do lots of work for Veteran’s. Maybe I feel guilty that I didn’t sign up because of student loans.
The point is, folks probably think we put a sign up and are rich. It ain’t so. I clean my office toilets, at least when I can’t get a girl that likes me to do it. I am the janitor, the secretary, the guy tasked with coming up with a creative way to try and dismantle the State’s assertion that you should serve 40 years prison – you know usual stuff.
My hours are terrible. I could easily make three times as much money working in a less stress environment. I wouldn’t change a damn thing, because I love what I do. The wins are sweet. The people that are employed, in school, or able to take care of their family because of the work I did on their case keeps me going.
I’ve had my share of critics, and I will have more. It can get you down a bit, but positive outcomes are far more common than negative outcomes when you work hard. A few folks have gone from being upset with me to seeking my personal advice after our case is over. I don’t care if you are a doctor of a prior felon, you will get treated the same by me – though I do use different words and phrases with different folks to be able to effectively communicate.
I might hate my job for part of a day or two a month, and I know lots of folks hate theirs the whole time – so I guess I love my job.