Please click back to the first of the Legal Highlights to learn about the Legal Highlights process and the reason behind this idealawg feature which focuses on what is right and working well in the legal profession. Here are all the Legal Highlight interviews.
And now read on the see what this Legal Highlight has to say in response to the seven questions . . .
1) Think about your experience in the legal profession and of a specific incident or event that made you feel extremely satisfied or proud. Give a brief description of the incident or event. The reasons I felt satisfied or proud were . . .
Interestingly, it wasn't a court appearance, nor did it even take place with a client - at least, she wasn't a client at that time. It was an intake interview. The lady sitting across from me had obviously been through a lot - she was composed, but just barely. She'd been the victim of a pretty despicable bigot at her workplace, and had just been fired by the offender's wife, who also worked there. I try to let potential clients in consultations just tell me their story, without interruption, and so I let her tell me her story, from the first day she ran into this person until the day she was fired. When she was done, I asked some questions, and then we discussed her options.
But almost immediately, I saw a marked change in her appearance - she seemed calmer, steadier, somehow more at peace. As we stood to say goodbye, she said, "Thank you. It felt so good just to tell my story." It hit me, not for the first time but in the most profound way, that this above all is what we lawyers do for the injured and for the accused - we let them tell their story. And it also occurred to me how healing that must be for these people who've felt voiceless and powerless for far too long.
2) I attended law school because . . .
Ironically, because I made an A on a test. I used to be an actor, and after a pretty traumatic event, I took a two-year break from that life. In 1992, I started thinking it was time to get back to work, but perhaps this time I'd take a more marketable skill with me. I decided being a paralegal had to beat being a waitress, so I took some courses at the local technical college. When I kept making "A"s on the exams, one of my classmates said jokingly, "You should just go to law school." So I did. While I did some thinking about it between her comment and the decision to apply, I honestly didn't think about it too much. In this respect, I was very fortunate to stumble haphazardly upon something that, as it turns out, I absolutely love. I don't recommend it necessarily, but in my case it worked out. Perhaps this is testament to the power of intuition!
3) I would recommend the practice of law because . . .
Well - I wouldn't, at least not broadly. I would recommend becoming a lawyer to anyone who loves words, hates injustice, has a hard time making up their mind because they see the appeal of both sides to a story, and has a keen curiousity and love of learning.
4) My colleagues who practice law appreciate doing so because . . .
While it's very stressful, and many practitioners lack a sense of fulfillment in their legal careers, a lot of us are just the opposite. We find joy in the practice of law, overall, because of the immediate sense of feedback. We know immediately we've helped someone during what's usually a pretty stressful time in their lives. Also, from a purely selfish point of view, it feels good to use one's brain to puzzle out a solution to someone's problem. There's a sense of pride in the work when it's done right that is, or can be, profound.
5) The benefits lawyers contribute to society are . .
Innumerable. How about the very thread in the fabric of this society? A voice for the oppressed, power to the powerless, defense for those under attack, a champion for the distressed ... this is what lawyers do.
6) The factors that make up the heart and the soul of law are . . .
Compassion, first and foremost, tempered by a strong sense of fairness and justice.
7) Think of a lawyer you consider a role model. The traits or values I respect or admire about him or her are . . .
First and foremost, a high degree of professionalism. She conducts herself, without fail, with total respect and civility for those who disagree. She's also an excellent listener, and she's never afraid to learn something new, no matter who the "teacher" might be.