What I Love Most About Being a Lawyer
Lindsay RakersNovember 11, 2012 11:51 AM
When I was younger, I was aware that my grandfather was a Judge (Judge Gail McWard) in Taylorville, Illinois (Christian County). I watched folks look up to my grandfather in that small town. Back then, being a lawyer was still a noble profession. Aside from meaning you likely made a good living, lawyers and judges were respected in the community for being stand-up citizens - giving back - doing something with their lives. As time has gone on, things have changed. Now we are in a place where lawyers are the subject of many jokes, where people shy away when they hear what we do for a living, where no longer are we respected, we are actually looked down upon. Why? I have many opinions about this but one of the biggest reasons is that we shoot ourselves in our own foot.
I am very vocal about "not liking insurance companies". For the most part, I find that insurance companies take advantage of people - insurance adjusters use their "power" and position to bully the injured into giving recorded statements, settling cheap, not hiring attorneys. But of course, there are some good insurance agents out there - there are some good attorneys out there who represent insurance companies respectfully. So I am part of the problem. I make generalizations about insurance companies due to my strong feelings and my past experiences and dealings with adjusters.
The public does the same thing with lawyers. And injured person may hire an attorney and have a horrible experience with that attorney. It leaves a bad taste in his mouth. He starts badmouthing lawyers in general and it catches on. We, as lawyers, are also rude to each other. Just because we are on opposite sides and have a job to protect our client doesn't mean we can't be kind to each other. There is nothing more annoying than lawyers yelling at other lawyers - it gives us a poor image. What else gives us a poor image? When we, as lawyers, do exactly what we are being criticized for doing. Take the recent elections, for example. We all criticize politicians for being dishonest and saying whatever is necessary to win an election and by slinging mud at the other candidate. We all witnessed this first hand as we watched various politicians do these exact things. We were relieved that the election came to an end - no more lies, no more mud slinging.
Likewise, with attorneys, we do ourselves no favors when we do exactly what people dislike about lawyers. When we yell at each other - when we fail to keep in contact with our clients and then take 40% of their settlement - when we do whatever it takes to get a case in the door including putting sleazy ads out for the public to see - we become exactly what they hate. And when we do that, we deserve the chatter, we deserve the critique.
What do I like most about being a lawyer? I control my own destiny. I like not being like the rest. I truly believe that I can make this profession better. I enjoy creating long lasting relationships with my clients. I enjoy getting to know other attorneys, even those on the opposite side of the case. I enjoy learning of new ways to use my law degree to connect with my community. I enjoy doing things within my power to be a part of a movement that is aimed at returning honor to this profession. Sure, when I take a case to a jury and the jury rules that my client is entitled to money, it is a fantastic feeling. Sure, when I argue a huge motion to a judge and I beat my opponent, it feels great. But nothing feels better than knowing I can practice law in an ethical, compassionate way. I look in the mirror and feel good. I sleep well at night. It isn't about how many cases I can handle at once, how many wins I have under my belt, how much money I make in a year. It's much, much more than that. And that's what I love about being a lawyer.
Lindsay Rakers, personal injury attorney in St. Louis, Missouri