Part 1 can be found here.
Note: Just a reminder that this was written for attorneys. Adapt and apply, the principles are the same.
Each one of us is born with an inner map, an inner navigator. Our choice, no matter how we spin or weave reasons to err. It always keeps coming back to that – our choice.
The greatest malaise of our time is that moment everyone comes to when, in bright sunlight or the dark hours before dawn, you realize how hungry you are for happiness, contentment, fulfillment in your daily life. That creeping sense of despair that you’ve been had. All your striving to be a success, all those material possessions you can point to, including the bills you’re still paying, those days when you’re tired to the bone and you wonder why in the hell you began this treadmill in the first place.
Congratulations! You’ve just graduated through the hardest lesson this school has to offer. Now, you’re ready for the real adventure to begin.
You chose to be an attorney. Why? What was the initial impetus? Has it lived up to your expectations? If you could begin again, would you? Would you, knowing what you know now, become an attorney?
If your answer was yes, excellent. If it was yes with a “but this time I’d…”, keep reading, and if it was no, I want to know why. You are some of our very best and brightest. What would you do differently? Another question might be why are you still doing it? Here’s a clue – it has very little to do with money.
At a time when attorney bashing is most people’s idea of daily exercise, I am here to restore and remind you of the calling of your profession, your dignity, and the nobility of your purpose, which is to fight and defend against a wrong done.
At the beginning of this workbook, I made the analogy that attorneys, as a profession, are the modern equivalent of knights. Every profession has its heroes, as well as knaves and rogues – yet, attorneys seem to call forth a response from the public that is overwhelmingly negative. No one, in their right mind, walks into Court without an attorney. You must have someone to champion you. The curious part is that no matter how well the attorney did, the client always thinks he/she should have done a better job. Enter malpractice insurance.
It isn’t enough that your job is tough, grueling, mind-bending and back-breaking (consider the weight of your briefcases) – but the very people you are committed to serve have very little appreciation for what it is that you do.
I believe that this “attorney bashing” sport arose when the public faced the fact that they cannot or should not live without an attorney within calling distance. It permeates every part of daily life. Attorneys then achieved a measure of power unprecedented. Lawsuits are a major fact of life and attorneys’ hourly rates went up accordingly. It is a major lesson of history that we fear what we do not understand or know, and, God knows, to the average person a courtroom is frightening and frequently incomprehensible. Without you, though, life becomes unmanageable. It does nothing to calm the feeling that the average citizen is at the mercy of an attorney, or a doctor, for that matter.
The other side of the mirror you live in is that, due to insurance companies, your court time (what the greater majority of attorneys live for) has been cut way down – it’s more cost effective to settle then to send you into battle – and it is unavoidable that nowadays you mainly manage paper flow. Not much fun.
So, the question remains – Do you like what you do?
Rule Number 3 coming up…
Note: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008