Lex Est A Zelus Diligo

The lawyer’s job is lonely, sometimes painfully lonely.

If you enter the legal profession, do it with your eyes wide open about what your future holds. There will be times you have to deal simultaneously with a judge essentially calling you an idiot and doing it in front of an opposing party who will thereby become emboldened and refuse to settle with you, an opposing counsel who doesn’t even need to say anything out loud to demonstrate her opinion that the judge didn’t go far enough, office equipment and computers not cooperating with you while you’re facing a deadline, a client who is yelling at you about the bill based on something some other lawyer allegedly said to him about fees, astonishingly exacting and difficult court rules demanding irregular font sizes and heavy cardstock that your printers won’t spit out cleanly, a superior lawyer riding you about producing more billable hours, a paralegal unhappy about having to work late and miss time with her kids so she can instead help you assemble 6,000 pages of record and hastily-drafted pleadings before a massively important filing goes out to a court the next day on a long-odds kind of gamble upon which hundreds of thousands of dollars are riding, resulting in staying late enough in the office that you start to smell bad because the air conditioning turned off four hours ago while you’ve been running around to try and get everything put together but when you finally do get home the person you love more than anyone else in the world yells at you for not calling in even after you said you’d be working late because you forgot to carry your cell phone with you the entire time all of this other shit was going on but you’ve got no damn choice but to keep on doing what you’re doing because deep down you know you’re right about this case even if literally no one else on Earth agrees with you and you feel a deep, powerful obligation to try your damndest to prove it.

It feels like there just isn’t a whole lot of reward for all the stress of having to execute absolutely everything in your life perfectly, all the time. But there are powerfully unpleasant punishments waiting for you if you fail to live up to that standard. These are the times I ask myself, “Why THE FUCK does anyone sane voluntarily become a lawyer?” It’s a very lonely feeling sometimes, giving it your all for a client because your own personal sense of professional ethics compels you such that you cannot do otherwise.

Things they will never, ever, EVER teach you in law school, lesson number eight: When you’re a lawyer, no one will ever love you for what you do, not even your clients. The best you can hope for is that someone will love you despite what you do. So you’d better passionately love doing this job all on your own, because there is a good chance that on any given case, you will never get any kind of reward for pouring your soul out on a client’s behalf other than the work itself.

If that sounds really good to you, then it’s time to take the LSAT.Stumble Upon Toolbar

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

One Comment

  1. It is people who care about their job this much that make the world a better place. Thank you for being a good person.

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