I know this is technically a blog, but, if it were some other social media platform, that right there, my friends, would be “click bait.” What?? This guest blogger is going to talk about how difficult it is to be a lousy attorney? But, no, I don’t mean bad lawyer in the sense of legal incompetency or shaky professional ethics; I mean it in terms of being the bad-guy lawyer, the bearer of the bad news, the lawyer whose job it is to tell the client that he or she is not getting a settlement or can’t win the case or …any number of other unhappy communications.
It turns out that I am conflict averse. That this was news to me was pretty lame because I chose – at age 49! – to go into litigation after graduating law school. In fact, I chose to join the products liability defense litigation practice group when I joined a Milwaukee firm the September after graduation. For some reason, I imagined that being a litigator would suit my personality, which, as my husband will confirm, likes to win arguments. But it turns out I didn’t have a very good sense what litigation entailed: rather than using persuasive argument to prevail on some esoteric, high-minded point, litigation is really more like a bare-knuckled battle royale. For me anyway, there was just too much…conflict. And, I was too old for it. It was exhausting.
When I changed course in my legal career and became general counsel for a national insurance trade association, I thought I’d left my conflict days behind me. But, another epiphany here (and, yes, I really am getting to be too old for these), there is “conflict” even in a legal profession that is primarily transactional. Continue reading “The Challenges of Being a Bad Lawyer”
Happy 2018! Since this is my first guest blog, I thought I might introduce myself a bit as a Marquette Lawyer, as the Dean likes to call us.
2018 marks the ten-year anniversary of my graduation from Marquette University Law School, a fact that I am reminded of by the flurry of communications sent by the law school to “Save the Date” for the upcoming tenth reunion in June! I attended law school as a “non-traditional” student, having graduated from my undergraduate college in 1981. I began as a part-time student, but I switched to full-time for my second and third years once I realized that, if I didn’t goose this along a bit, we would be paying for two children in college on top of my law school tuition! But, although I started as a part-timer and could have attended the evening classes designed for the part-time students, throughout my tenure at Marquette, I almost always took classes during the day with the more traditional – and by that I mean younger – students. I did so primarily so I could be home in the evenings with my husband and three children, who were in middle school and early high school. I wanted to be available for homework and swim meets and choir concerts and school plays and all the other activities attendant to children of that age, and my (then) part-time job was flexible enough for me to attend day classes.
I really enjoyed taking classes with those energetic and earnest 20-somethings, many of whom were in undergraduate colleges and universities just the semester before starting law school. A story I’ve told often over the years illustrates the age difference between me and my cohort: One of my first semester law school classes was Criminal Law with Professor O’Hear and we were scheduled to take our first midterm exam. I hadn’t taken an exam of any sort since my senior year in college, and I was slightly anxious but, hopefully, prepared. I sat down in class and turned to my neighboring student, a smart and nice young man named Luke whom I’d sat next to throughout the semester. I told Luke that I’d realized earlier that morning that it had been 23 years since I’d taken a midterm exam. Luke’s eyes opened wide, and he exclaimed, “That’s how old I am!” I laughed (and have enjoyed the memory ever since), but it brought home to me just how long my “pause” had been between college and law school. Continue reading “A Reflection upon My Tenth Anniversary of Being a Lawyer”