The Practice of Law

Posted on | April 6, 2012 | 4 Comments

When I started working for a law firm in the fall of 2007, I hated my job.

Let me clarify that I love love love the firm I worked for and loved the people I worked with… but I hated my job.  I felt stupid and underprepared.  I couldn’t fathom how I would ever learn enough to be a successful lawyer, couldn’t fathom rattling off case names like old friends and code sections like Bible verses.  I went to work every day scared out of my mind that I would screw something up, wreck something major, or in general make massive mistakes.

I felt incompetent.

I felt small and insignificant.

I felt like I’d made one huge mistake in ever going to law school in the first place.

For the next three years between two separate firms, the feeling continued.  I didn’t like being a lawyer.  I didn’t like going in to work every day, going in to make mistakes and feel stupid and be called out for doing this or that or the other.  I still felt like I’d made one massive mistake in taking on the debt of law school.

My very first boss told me once to give it five years.  He told me that in five years I’d feel better, feel more secure, feel like I knew what I was doing.  Behind his back, I rolled my eyes.  Five years is an eternity when you hate what you’re doing.  Five years is an eternity when every day is a struggle just to make yourself get out of bed and go in to the office.  Five years is forever.

But here I sit, quickly approaching the five year mark of my law school graduation and I can honestly say… finally, FINALLY, I love being a lawyer.

I love helping my clients.  I love finding new ways to tweak the system and new cases to support new and different theories of law.  I love that when I finish a case, I feel proud, happy, and secure in the fact that I did everything I could to help my client and they know that I did everything I could.  I love that I know where to look when I have a problem, where to research, what to do. I don’t know everything; Lord, how could ANYONE know everything about the law… but I know my field.  I know enough to know when I can answer and when I need to research.

And then yesterday, something incredible happened.

We have a law clerk in the office and she is helping me with some research on a brief I’m writing.  I went down to her desk to talk to her about it and she started explaining some case she’d found.

“Oh yeah… the Publix case.  Have you looked at Chapparal Boats yet?”  The words were out of my mouth before I could even think about what I was saying.  She looked at me wide eyed for a moment and I smiled.

“You like that? Mind like a steel trap,”  She nodded, impressed… Hell, I sounded important even to myself.  I leaned in and giggled a bit, ever unable to maintain a purely “lawyerly” facade.

“Give it five years,” I smiled at her, “and you’ll be able to do that, too.”

Comments

4 Responses to “The Practice of Law”

  1. Nngilmer73
    April 6th, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    Love this post! If it makes any difference, you always seemed very prepared and in control to me. So glad to hear you finally feel sure of yourself. You are an amazing woman with a brilliant mind!

  2. April
    April 11th, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    What a great story of believing in yourself enough to keep persisting, and finally enjoying the fruits of your labor!

  3. Anandi Raman Creath
    April 12th, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

    YES! So cool. Wow, 5 years requires a lot of patience. Maybe that’s why so many of the folks I know who went to law school are doing something else now…

  4. Aundrea
    June 1st, 2015 @ 8:06 am

    Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the fantastic work!

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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