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DTCI: Would you choose to be a lawyer if you had a do-over?

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dtci-mortimer-renee“If you could do it all over again, would you still be a lawyer?” Anyone reading this has probably been asked the question. I myself cannot think of anything else that I would do, and of course, my answer is “Yes!” It is a wonderful profession! My first boss used to come into the office every morning and say, “We are so lucky! We get to practice law today! There is no heavy lifting, we work indoors, and we learn something new every day!”

That said, what we do and what we have is often misperceived. We never really stop thinking about our work. How many times have you been distracted at a party and failed to listen to someone speaking to you because you were thinking about the motion you must argue the next week against a formidable opponent? How many times have you looked at your spouse in the middle of the night and envied his/her sleep because the stress of your case is keeping you awake? How many times have you missed your child’s baseball game or a family outing because you must prepare for an upcoming trial? How many times have you skipped a vacation or left a vacation event to help a client? I have many partners in my firm who seem to have mastered the work-life balance. I am still trying to do so. But as I get older, it gets easier.

This is a crazy time for lawyers. The profession is saturated, and the competition is stiff. Clients are increasing pressure on lawyers to come up with alternative fee strategies. Some clients refuse requests for hourly rate increases. In fact, due to pressures that they are facing, some clients are asking for hourly rate decreases. There seems to be an increase in the number of firm mergers, and practice and specialty groups in law firms demand much work and attention from us as lawyers.

Of course, every profession has its stresses, and no one ever feels sorry for a lawyer. I suppose that any empathy we receive will have to come from our fellow lawyers.

I have to say that, for me, and probably for you, all these stressors are cast aside when I get to participate in true lawyering activities to help my clients. You all know how extremely rewarding it is to prepare a case from the beginning to end and help a client. It is exceedingly fun to cross-examine a witness and get the testimony that you need to win a case. It is an amazing feeling to sit in a courtroom and hear a verdict in your client’s favor, after all the hard work that you have put into a case. Even better, it is great when you win the case that should be won, because it is the right result.

I can write on any topic I choose for this DTCI column. So, I just wanted to tell you all that I think what we do every day is pretty damn cool. Give yourselves a pat on the back for taking on this incredibly difficult, challenging, but rewarding profession. Regardless of what “side of the v.” you are on, what you do is pretty amazing, and we are so lucky! I would absolutely do it all over again! Would you?•

__________

Renee Mortimer is the partner-in-charge of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP’s sole Indiana office and is on the board of directors of DTCI. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
 

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  1. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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