Monday, October 1, 2012

Warning: Post Contains Nearly Sickening Levels of Positivity About Being A Lawyer

My favorite philosopher from my high school Humanities class was Boethius, a Roman dude from the 6th century. He faced some pretty rough times-- imprisonment that led to his eventual execution.  The basic theme from his most famous work is that good things and bad things are both transitory so we shouldn't let either have much power over us. According to Boethius, most of the time, we can't do anything to make sure we end up on the winning side of luck. Fortune is fickle. The solution is to be detached.

This kind of reminds me of the first version of the adage"bad things happen to good people."

His philosophical explorations make me want to step back, no matter how "good" or "bad" things are and focus on just "being." To accept everything as an experience. When things are bad, learn from them and move on. When things are good, stay humble, and remember that everything can turn around tomorrow.

But, at the same time, I kind of want to disagree with him. I want to believe that, while we cannot control our environment, we can to some extent make our own luck. We can prepare as best we can and arm ourselves with knowledge, preparedness, and skill. And while I wish I could learn to stay detached during the hard times, when things are good, I want to scream from happiness at the top of my lungs. I'm not good at hiding my feelings. Not ever.

So, with that intro, I have to say: My job is so freaking awesome!!!! AHHH! I love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

There is no clearer sign that you are right where you should be when you leave the office EVERYDAY skipping down the hallway shouting, "I love my job!" I feel so fortunate. How many people actually feel that way every day?

I know my job is still new and that, as Boethius says, fortune is fickle, but right now, things are so awesome. I'm not going to be detached.  In fact, I'm going to revel in it as long as I can. Because everyday I walk into my office and I do something new. On any given day, I learn at least 5 new things. I do something challenging. I do something uncomfortable.

I've been at my new job for only 8 days. And, although I only work 6 hours a day, each day is jam-packed. My work days are fully concentrated with challenges. In the past 8 work days, I've written 6 motions (for cases in three different counties). I've written a demand letter. I've met clients. I've participated in conferences. I've answered two sets of written discovery. I've prepared three answers to complaints. While I liked my old job, I've done more actual attorney work in the past 8 days than I ever did in the year I spent at my last job. No matter how much you like your job, if you aren't using your skills, your education, or your full potential, it will feel as if a part of you is missing.

As I come to work each day, I try to put my finger on exactly why being a litigation attorney is so awesome. By now, I think I kind of figured it out. With every task I complete, I'm shaping an end product. The trial at the end of the road is like a grand production, and each step along the way is a real opportunity to mold an aspect of that production. In litigation, you really get the sense that you are doing something of value on a daily basis. You see meaningful results of your work, at first immediately in a grant or denial of a motion, and then in the long run, as you present or keep evidence out of trial and get a, hopefully good, jury verdict.

And being a litigation attorney is also like a strategic game of chess. For every action I take, the opposing party makes a counter-move and vice-versa. But, unlike a never-ending game of chess, I get to see immediate results. After I write and file a motion, the other side will respond, and then the court will eventualy take action. Walking out of a hearing (or rather sitting at your desk while the partner waks out of a hearing) with an order from the court granting your wish, is a pretty amazing feeling. When that happens, it's like I literally see my cases progressing right before my eyes. And they are progressing because of things that I did!

In any legal field, with experience comes mastery and confidence. But, the laws are always changes. The court rules are always being amended. The clients are always different. The case facts are always posing new challenges. At the same time, you can be both an experienced litigator and still know absolutely nothing about a certain issue of the law. It's so wonderful.

On top of all that, lawyers truly are "counselors." We have a skill that is specialized. We know things that our clients do not know. We have such an awesome responsibility to guide our clients through the litigation process, educate them, assist them, make them comfortable, and help them make decisions about their case. I absolutetly love the client-based, customer service aspect about being an attorney.

Between helping people, seeing end-results on an almost daily basis, gaining mastery of the law while at the same time staying challenged, litigation is a pretty awesome gig. At the end of the day, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. And even though coming home to my babies is one of my favorite parts of the day, sometimes, it is really hard to force myself to leave after just 6 hours of work.

Who knows, all this may change tomorrow. Or maybe IT will stay the same and I will be the one to change. But for now, things could not get better. I'm going to ride this positivity out for as long as it will carry me.

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