“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.