Rule No. 2: You Will Learn Lessons, Part 2

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

13 thoughts on “Rule No. 2: You Will Learn Lessons, Part 2

  1. Thoroughly enjoy this Series. We have a close friend just beginning his second year of Law School. I’ve subtle-y danced around the subject with him…but feel I dare not discourage his Dream.


  2. Hunt, You had me the moment I read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. What a wonderful paragraph. I will forever love this for the pure way it sums up life. I have known a very few lawyers in my life. My father-in-law was a government attorney who put in those long hours on a government salary. He was a proud man, a retired marine, and a damn fine attorney. And I was extremely lucky to know him and count him as a friend. The other attorney that I had significant personal knowledge was a divorce lawyer in Norfolk VA. At the time of my divorce he was the best divorce lawyer in town, and as far as I am concerned he earned the title. But off the top of my head they would be the only lawyers I could and would openly compliment. Now you could throw in Perry Mason, Ben Madlock, and Franklin and Bash, onto the lawyers I respect.

    But I am part of the majority of folks that holds lawyers in such low regard, Isn’t the House and Senate made up of mostly lawyers. And the show stopper is that most of our Presidents have been lawyers by education, if not by trade. What about the guys that ran Enron, or the talking head at Exxon or BP, aren’t they lawyers? If not, don’t they just bob their head up and down when their lawyers pull their strings. I know I am doing a great job of being the poster child for lawyer bashing. And it’s amazing because the only 2 lawyers I have known, have both done right by me.

    Yes I admit that there is a place in our world for lawyers and yes they really are needed. I for one don’t have a clue when lawyer bashing started, but even as a kid I remember them being referred to as ambulance chasers. Now I see endless late night commercials for them, and some of their antics in the commercials lends itself to the bashing

    Somehow I have missed the point of the post and for that I apologize I will take from this post, those 2 paragraphs. Those alone make this a very good post. Please take care, Bill


    • “Feeling better, Bill?” She asks drily.

      In answer to your question and to always be of service, I went and looked it up re our Congress. The 113th Congress has “128 lawyers in the House and another 45 in the Senate. ” For all the professions, see this link:

      I am glad you got something out of this post and that you picked the two most critical paragraphs – unless, of course, you were an attorney or in a profession that is “bashed.” Let’s see, you were in government, yes? Attorneys are the first to break the law in my opinion because they understand it. What we need is tort reform.


  3. Hunt, I was a federal employee for almost 40 years, I only heard daily that we did nothing, that we were over paid, that anyone could do that, that we only got the job because we knew someone, that we never worked overtime, and we were always the 1st to run away when the weather got bad. I am pretty familiar with working in a profession that is bashed by everyone.. I heard the phrase “close enough for government work,” more than once.

    I may have been a little harsh on lawyers and their profession and I know it makes me a hypocrite. As a professional Government employee I can’t stand the labels that folks put on the group in general and total. But I will be honest I couldn’t make the job. I couldn’t visualize the lesson plan being for doctors, for auto mechanics’, for grocery store clerks. For that I apologize. Still friends? Take care, Bill


    • Bill, I expect my friends to challenge me, especially if they think I am wrong. So, no worries and have at it. 🙂

      I read this with my first cup of coffee and started to reply. Instead, I stepped away from the keyboard so I could really consider your comment(s). I come back with this feeling we derailed somewhere in this conversation, thinking we are on the same page and that we aren’t. I found myself writing a long response and decided it would be better as a Notes to Self, following this post. Hopefully, I answer some of your questions and challenges and, if not, keep ’em coming.


  4. An excellent set of ideals to apply to any worthwhile profession.
    When it gets to the legal profession itself and its image, I believe that the members have taken the rap for systems that are fundamentally flawed. They set out to ensure that justice will prevail, but achieve an atmosphere which encourages processes whereby eloquence, misdirection and showmanship can defeat truth.
    How valid is the maxim that it is better for a hundred guilty to go free than for one innocent to be convicted? The latter happens anyway, incidentally.


    • Col, thank you. You have expressed it better than I did. It seems today that we aim for perfection and excellence is no longer good enough. The penalty for a public figure being human and making a misstep – whether it be an affair while married, or having used an outdated word even 40 years ago, or expressing a personal opinion is utter ruin, resignation from office, and verbal damnation by people who have done worse, but have a bully pulpit. It has become so virulent that no ordinary man or woman – meaning someone willing to step up and try to solve problems – vs. an egotistical narcissist – is willing to sacrifice himself or her family on the media or special interests’ bonfire.


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