A good friend of mine once told me that hitting the ball into the sand trap on the golf course should be looked at in one way, and one way only: an opportunity — an opportunity to get better at something that you may not excel at, but nonetheless must be able to master to become great.
Opportunities abound. Everyone, regardless of profession, has opportunities to do something in this world that is important. The problem as I see it, is that all too often people are too afraid to see the opportunities in front of them. They figure their ball went into the bunker, and they have no way to get out.
As practitioners of the law, we have a very unique opportunity to help people.
Each person that walks through our doors to ask for advice is another opportunity to share what we have learned over the course of our legal education and career.
All too often, I talk to lawyers who have lost sight of our core calling, to help. They look upon more work as more stress, and more aggravation. In all honesty, I would have to admit that sitting in an office meticulously combing through the email record of a company in the middle of serious litigation could be stressful, unpleasant, and tedious. Losing sight of the opportunity is unquestionably much easier than seeing the research as a tool to discover the answer to the question.
We all have different callings in this profession. We all enjoy different kinds of work. When I tell colleagues that I am in court four days a week arguing in front of a judge, I can see the anxiety building up inside of them just thinking of themselves in the same position. Similarly, if I were locked in my office looking through tax records and the IRS code, I would probably make the Metro section of the local newspaper as “Local Attorney Found Hanging In Office.”
In all of these diverse areas of law, we need to remember how lucky we are to have the opportunity to help people in a meaningful way. As a criminal defense attorney, I see the helping end a little more directly than some, when I am able to help someone minimize their time in custody, or in a best case scenario obtain an outright dismissal of serious charges against them. I think to myself how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to help someone who was scared, anxious, and helpless all at the same time.
For those who have not had the opportunity to help a person recently, I highly recommend volunteering at the Milwaukee Justice Center. So many people have so many questions. Most of the time, it is the basics. How can I see my child? How do I get my driver’s license back? What do I do if my spouse wants to file for a divorce? Not exactly the United States Supreme Court, but an opportunity just as significant and very important to that person.
Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Many of my clients will continue hitting their lives into the sand trap, and I will continue to look at these lies in the trap as a way to master my game at getting them out.
It is truly an honor to be chosen to be the alumni blogger on this very distinguished and thoughtful blog. I look forward to contributing the rest of the month on a topic where I continually find myself hitting out of the bunker, operating while intoxicated defense work. Comments and critiques are always appreciated