I discussed recently with my wife what each of us wanted to be when we were young after we "grew up." My wife had a very colorful answer. She told me that in middle school she wanted to be a meteorologist. What a fantastic answer! She then asked me what I wanted to be at that age, and I had to contemplate my answer for a bit. I suppose most answers from young boys would run the gamut from wanting to be an astronaut, to having aspirations for wanting a glamorous job like being a sports agent. My answer, however, was a little different. After thinking about it, I told her that I always wanted to be a lawyer. The truth is that this is not something I conjured up recently based on how I now make my living. It is actually the 100% honest truth.
I can remember doing a mock trial in 8th grade and being utterly fascinated by courtroom procedure. I remember being completely enthralled with the intricacy of a trial…the strategy, the competition, and the sheer gamesmanship. I remember loving the formality of a trial, and how each section had to proceed according to the rule of law. It all seemed so black and white, and I LOVED IT. I was sold.
As the years went by, I had various encounters with attorneys who I always admired and held respect for. They seemed to emit a different aura of confidence than most other people because they seemed to know the law. The lawyers I knew refused to be threatened, intimidated, or coerced...BY ANYONE. They always acted like they knew and had complete trust in the law and the system, and whenever an injustice was perceived; it appeared they knew the exact approach to rectify the situation. Overall, the confidence with which they seemed to carry themselves with was something that I deeply longed to acquire. Since then, I have always wanted to be an attorney. In fact, anything less I felt would have been a severe disappointment.
Now that I am an attorney myself, I realize that at the end of the day I absolutely love my profession. As a criminal defense attorney, I see the courtroom often. I see the positives and negatives of our justice system on a daily basis. When I think back to how long I've been practicing now, I am blown away. The time has passed by quicker than I could've possibly imagined.
Many times I feel frustrated by the amount of work it takes to do my job effectively, especially as the owner and operator of my own Law Firm. Being in court negotiating with prosecutors and judges, conducting jury trials, and various hearings, doing legal research and writing motions, spending time with current clients apprising them of their legal situation (and doing research on their particular legal issues in order to ensure they will get the most effective defense possible), going to see clients in jail, sending out bills, paying bills, managing an office, attending CLE’s, etc. The reality is my job never ends. The work is almost constant and it’s a stream that never ends. I don’t get off at 5pm and I certainly can’t leave work at the end of the day when I’m "off the clock." With my job, the proverbial "clock" in the workplace does not exist. My work clock is 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
Despite all of this, my work days fly by. I'm amazed by how quickly the time passes when I work. My only complaint is that there are not enough hours in the day for me to get everything done that I need to. Overall, I think this is a good problem to have. It means that I do not perceive my life or my job as boring, and most of the time it actually DOESN’T feel like "actual" work. Confucius once said "If you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life."
Some days I feel the work I do is actually more like my hobby. I love trying to get better at it, almost like how a kid loves trying to get better at playing a video game. I constantly seek ways to represent my clients in a more effective manner. I am an absolute criminal defense "CLE" maniac. I’m always scared that there will be some tidbit of information that will be conveyed at a seminar where a unique, jewel of knowledge that I may learn might help me win some case I'm working on (or will work on in the future). I constantly try to improve my knowledge, experience, and my ability to advocate in trial settings. I have an unquenching desire in my stomach to try and always improve. I usually work late in the night, most evenings, and on weekends. Ordinarily I only spend my spare time with my lovely wife, Annie (and very soon in the future, my new son who is expected August 2012).
I love being an attorney. My life is hard, and it's a constant battle. I have to fight everyday, and I continually have to help people deal with very real, and very immediate problems. My inaction or lack of knowledge in some area may be the difference in someone having to spend more time incarcerated, or perhaps with having a lasting criminal conviction that could blemish their record for life. My life is filled with endless stress. The stakes of this game can be extremely high.
Through it all, however, I am constantly motivated by those in the past who have been fierce advocates in our system who all earned great respect practicing law with integrity. I remember Atticus Finch. I love reading about Clarence Darrow, and I love analyzing the past words of icons like Abraham Lincoln and his views on being an honest, yes successful, lawyer. It still amazes me that the very concepts he encouraged other attorneys to exhibit back in his time are still applicable even today. I love striving to display virtues of integrity as they all did with their respective law careers. Sometimes it is hard. Nothwithstanding this, it seems that there are very few jobs in the world that can provide such an avenue where your character is almost on constant display when you do your job.
I am an attorney. And I don’t much want to do anything else. I love representing people, and trying to help them with their problems. I can only sleep at night knowing I did my best for all of my clients. It genuinely bothers me if I ever come close to ever feeling otherwise. It makes me sick to my stomach and I literally cannot sleep.
I am not a famous movie star, or an accomplished professional athlete. There are plenty of professions I fully realize I could've embarked upon that would have been more financially lucrative where I would've made more money (especially considering the amount of hours that I have to expend to earn what I do). I tell people all the time that they shouldn’t go to law school unless they absolutely cannot live without it. I usually try to convince them that there are many alternate ways to earn a living outside of the practice of law. These days it seems that on average obtaining an MBA would prove more financially lucrative overall.
All that being said, I can unequivocally state that I would not do another job in the entire world. I am living my dream. The day that I found out I passed the bar exam and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas and finally knew for sure that I could finally call myself an "Attorney" was probably the happiest day of my life. I remember not caring about what kind of work I would be doing as an attorney, or how much money I would make in the future. For me, it wasn’t about money. I only cared that I had finally accomplished my dream. No matter how much success I will (or will not) experience in the future, I still rest easy feeling that I am doing what I genuinely feel God created me to do. I am an advocate for the people, and I am an Attorney. For me, there is nothing better in the world.