This is a difficult job we do, and it is easy to get caught up in the everyday problems of legal practice. It's hard to keep one eye on the bigger picture while you deal with difficult cases. There are days when you think it might be easier to do this work with the support of a big firm environment.
Do you want to hear the good news first or the bad news? What was that? You said the bad news? Here it goes...
When people learn that I am a lawyer, I am often asked the question, “What kind of lawyer are you?” When I answer that I predominantly work in family law, the response is normally something akin to, “Oh, you poor thing. I don’t know how you do it.”
To be honest, I am not surprised with the response.
I am a young lawyer but the past year of managing my own law practice has confirmed what everyone already knows: justice is not only blind but it is also deaf and mute. I remember growing up with my mother telling me that if artful thieves exist and can target me, I must also be artful in protecting myself. I now somehow entangled this notion as a metaphor in the calculation of what it takes to achieve justice as a lawyer.
Are lawyers suffering from an identity crisis? Is it an occupational hazard that our training has made us good at our jobs, but bad at life? In many instances, we are legally and ethically compelled to subvert our personal interests and identities in favour of our professional interests and obligations. As lawyers we are typically pessimistic, risk-averse, adversarial, argumentative, confrontational, overly opinionated, critical, over-achieving, “type-A” and blame-avoidant on our clients’ behalf. Admit nothing. Say nothing. Give nothing. Defend, defend, defend. Attack, parry, thrust. Are our personal identities slightly subverted to these interests or have they been completely eradicated?