As most of you should know by now, I spent a long time working in small firms before I landed a dream job that actually bored me to tears. I loved it and I will always miss the dream job because it allowed me to break $100K. And for that alone, I was grateful. By the time I landed the dream job, my interest in the nitty gritty of small firm practice had waned and I was feeling guilty practicing shit law.
I find that the amount that one is paid is conversely related to the amount of excitement in his area of the law. For example, a prosecutor is usually passionate about what they do and excited to go to work on a daily basis. Consequently, they are paid less in the spectrum of law jobs. Corporate lawyers are bored to tears with their work, especially if it's transactional. But they are paid extremely well. So, in line with that logic, in the beginning; I found my work extremely interesting when I could barely afford to pay my bills. But in an odd way, it kind of took a chunk out of my heart too. I felt bad about what I did for a living...
Let me explain...
I dabbled in many areas of the law, but the experiences that stick out in my mind involve people and their problems... .
Since I wasn't the boss, I would try to do what's right. For one, all people seeking a divorce from their spouse come to an attorney ready to fight. Even if they have three pennies between them, they are ready to fight hard for what is owed to them. So, if someone approached me and they were ready to tear their spouse to shreds because of infidelity or a drug problem or general irresponsibility, I would try to talk him/her off a ledge. We'd discuss what they think they would be willing to concede to and what they think their spouse would agree with. I'd always try and push the uncontested route with my clients. Sure, we would make less money that way. But the path of least resistance is always best.
Only when negotiations fell apart, would we proceed with a contested divorce. Of course, the clients would get caught up in the grounds... but that was never the meat of the case. It was always about the property. Like I said, most of my clients had very little to fight over.... a home, a couple of cars, a pension. Although I didn't send the bills, I felt very bad knowing that the "fortune" that my client and his/her spouse built together was ultimately going to end up in the pockets of both parties' lawyers. In the end, my clients were satisfied with the results. But I was left feeling a little dirty for having gotten involved.
One time, a client made an appointment to come and speak to me. We sat in the conference room for an hour while he explained that he believed his daughter to be suicidal if she didn't come and live with him soon. Apparently, she hated her mother. Stupid me, thinking that the client told me for a reason. After all, why would you pay an attorney $275 to speak to her for an hour, for no reason??? I filed an emergency motion to change custody based on the change of circumstances. When the client received his copy of the brief in the mail--he came to my office and tried to throw a chair at me. Apparently, I was wrong in thinking that he wanted me to act upon that information. He thought that I ruined his daughter's life. My boss intervened, saving me from bodily harm. Once again, I felt dirty. In the end, I was successful on the motion and, ultimately, the divorce went his way. He kissed my feet at the end of the case.
One time, a young father came into my office. He had a new baby with his wife, and thought it was time to have visitation with a child he had previously, that was now 10 years old. Apparently, the mother refused my client visitation with his child when he ended their relationship. To the child, who was 3 or 4 at the time of the separation, he was from "Daddy" to "Cousin Joe." I was very optimistic about the case. Once I got my client on target with child support, we filed the visitation petition and went to court.
We were both sitting there, waiting for roll call, when my client saw his son. He saw his son call his mother's husband "daddy." Then the child eyed my client and said, "Mommy, why is Cousin Joe here????"
My client was crushed. He stood up and said, "I can't do this. He thinks that man is his father." Well, I couldn't convince him otherwise. I understood why he was upset. He paid the firm for my time. But the outcome didn't sit well with me.
So, after years of doing "interesting" work that made a difference in someone's life, I was excited to leave it behind me. The excitement was cool, but it felt a little naughty. And I felt like my soul would burn in eternal hell for fucking with people's lives. Ultimately, what choice did I have? It didn't even pay well. But that's the last time my career excited me. Now, I just want to pay some bills. Is that so wrong?
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