Early in high school I took an ‘Introduction to the Law’ class. I loved it. I worked hard at it. I got an A. My teacher encouraged me to go out for the mock trial team. I made the team and participated in several statewide competitions. Both I and my team did very well. It was a great introduction to the court system, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I decided then that I wanted to be a lawyer.
Surprisingly enough, the attorney mentors and coaches who worked with our mock trial teams over the years often told us that the profession of being a lawyer wasn’t very much fun, was very high stress, required lots of working hours, and was very difficult. They didn’t paint a very rosy picture. They often suggested to us that other professions would be much more enjoyable.
I stayed in touch with several of those mentors as I went off to college. When I shared with them that I was planning to become a lawyer, they gently raised the same cautions I had heard from them before: being a lawyer means high stress, long hours, a lack of professional enjoyment. It made me second guess my decision and I spent a lot of time worrying if I was making the right decision. Ultimately, I decided to forge ahead and went to law school after graduation.
Soon into my career as an attorney, I knew I had made the right decision. Every day my job allows me to help someone else. Whether it is defending someone who is wrongly accused, helping an individual move forward again after making bad choices, or speaking for someone who doesn’t have the ability to do so, I take great satisfaction in being able to help people improve themselves or their life situation.
Looking back, I think I now know why those attorney mentors were so “down” on the legal profession. They never had my experience in the legal profession. They were stuck in jobs with larger law firms that placed heavy demands on them. They had very little interaction with their clients. Their clients weren’t people to them – they were just names on paper.
I don’t have that problem. I love my job. I am lucky to work in a small firm were we focus on the individual client and his or her needs. I am lucky to get to know my clients and learn about their lives. I am lucky to work with juveniles and have the ability to talk to them about their choices and the implications of those choices. I am lucky to work with colleagues who place a priority on ethical, professional service to our clients, and who are very good at what they do.
In short, I love being a lawyer because it allows me to use my talents and skills to make a difference in life of someone else.