29 June 2011

So this is what it feels like to be a lawyer.

Throughout law school, especially during the first year, there is a lot of discussion about what it's like to be a lawyer. Some professors use this topic to lower expectations for students who believe the practice is going to be like Law and Order (all courtroom action); others use it to raise expectations for students who think that the practice is going to be like Boston Legal (all play and no work). Truth be told, I think that all lawyers like to tell war stories and love to scare those with less experience. About halfway through my first semester, I was ready to pack it up and quit. I was not sure if I was really cut out for a job with such incredible pressure...from clients, from bosses, from the bench, from the profession...without any true escape. While the idea of a 9 to 5 job without a thought of work after closing time still sounds pretty good to me, I decided that I felt passionately enough about practicing law to keep going. Besides, I convinced myself, it won't be that way for me.

Today was one of those days when I know that "it" can't be escaped. I'm currently working against some seriously fierce deadlines in order to keep two clients from being deported. Legal emergencies don't know that they are supposed to play nicely and take turns. I worked a long day yesterday and even longer day today - not because someone told me that I had to, not because I was asked to, not even because I wanted to. I'm doing it because that is what needs to be done to get the job done. It's critically important to me - and even more so to my clients - that their deportations be stopped. It's not a responsibility that ends after 8 hours or even after I finally leave the office. I'll keep going until the job is done...and even then I'll probably wake up at 2am thinking about a "t" that I forgot to cross.

So back to my title: so this is what it feels like to be a lawyer. It feels like a lot of responsibility and a fair bit of nerves. It feels like you can't go to the bathroom because you don't have time to get up for even a second. It feels like you have more to do than can ever possibly be done within the time allotted. It feels like constantly thinking of the next thing that needs to happen, even while driving home and trying to drowned out your thoughts with loud country music. It feels like juggling ethical obligations with client advocacy with practicality.

I could stand a little less pressure and less intense deadlines, but I must admit that this is exactly what I want to be doing. I feel passionately about my clients' cases and enjoy the challenge of advocating for them. I can certainly see how people burn out of the legal profession, but - for today - I'm pretty happy with where I am. Today, I don't want to escape "it."

1 comment:

J said...

Glad to hear you are reaping the benefits of your years of hard work.