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DTCI: Practicing law can be gratifying, even in summertime

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DTCI-Misha-Rabinowitch-sigRecently, in a moment of self-reflection, I found myself thinking about what I find gratifying about practicing law. I was distracted in my quest for an answer by sunshine and daydreams of what it would be like to be Gordon Hayward, to kick the winning goal in a World Cup game, to play a match at Wimbledon, or, humbly, just to play catch in the yard with my son. So, rather than let the fleeting moment pass, I decided to put pen to paper in the event that during these beautiful summer days others might need the same reminder.

They don’t call it fun; they call it work. So, finding gratification in what we do is sometimes difficult. After all, as litigators, we are charged with the responsibility to solve problems that our clients are unable to solve on their own. If it were an option, especially in difficult economic times, most clients would gladly avoid paying their attorneys to solve their problems.

Yet for me, nothing is more professionally satisfying than working extremely hard on a case and achieving a result that is meaningful to the client and justifies the expense. I find that one of the most difficult aspects of being an attorney is explaining to a client at the outset why litigation will be expensive. But when the hard work is done and a favorable result is achieved, the client more often than not recognizes that you served as a trusted soldier in the trenches during difficult times – sometimes after they have been abandoned by nearly everyone else. That is when I truly realize the rewards of practicing law.

I am convinced that law remains a profession that most people respect. My thought in this regard is perhaps best illustrated in the following way. When in conversation someone might say to me, “You’re an attorney so you know more about this than I do.” I return a blank stare as the person questions me about a topic about which I know nothing. The assumption is that because we are attorneys, we know everything about the law, which, at least in my case, could not be further from the truth. I know about the areas of law in which I practice and relatively little about most others, but I don’t mind that people assume that I know much more than I do.

Moreover, although research and writing are not the most glamorous aspects of law, I find it satisfying to fight through hours of wheel-spinning research, argument crafting, and revision of countless drafts to complete a document that I can be proud to present to a judge in court. Not akin to what Landon Donovan must have felt as he kicked the winning goal against Algeria, but gratifying nonetheless.

I enjoy the teaching aspects of law: the idea that we learn and analyze through precedent and we pass on to those who come after us the skills that were passed to us by the lawyers who taught us. I am lucky to have learned from hard-working, ethical lawyers who taught me to strive to practice law the same way that they do. It is also the case that often I learn just as much from opposing counsel as from the lawyers working on my side.

This brings me to question the distinction often made between lawyers who represent plaintiffs and those who represent defendants. Don’t all of us share the same objective: to advocate our client’s position as compellingly as possible within the confines of law and ethics? If that is so, then there really is no distinction. That is something else that I find gratifying about practicing law.•

__________

Misha Rabinowitch is a partner in the Indianapolis firm of Wooden & McLaughlin and serves on the board of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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