The saving grace of reaching a verdict

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You’ll all be well versed to many of my complaints about working in the legal profession by now. Besides for the obvious day to day politics there are other things that make whatever you’re doing a part of your life. When you’re involved in legal disputes, they become your life. There is no longer a night where you can go home and relax by the television. No. Relaxation no longer exists.

When you’re a lawyer your life becomes about the case you’re working on. This is at least my experience. It’s incredibly rare that a single second will go by where I don’t think about the case I am currently working on. I am sure there are many lawyers out there that can echo this and perhaps sympathize with me. And then, I am sure there are others that can’t even begin to understand this. To those I want to say – I envy you. Teach us your methods. Please. I beg of you. It’s ironic actually that the same people that are reporting about increasing suicides among lawyers are the ones leaving us so stressed. Our cases are often highly publicized in the media and even when they’re not, they become the focus of someones life for that time.

This does have one advantage however. When the case is finally over, when a verdict has finally been reached, I can breathe a collective sigh of relief with other members my legal party. When the case does run into conflicts, such as the jury being unable to reach a verdict or there being some unforeseen event, the stress again piles on. The only time I truly have a break from the stress is the short amount of time between when a verdict is reached for the current case I am working on, and the time before starting another one.

And then the next case hits me and it happens all over again. Sometimes the anxiety this creates is exhilarating. I feel like there really are people depending on my skills as a legal professional to save their lives. And then other times, this anxiety is overwhelming. It can be extremely difficult to concentrate on anything other than the case in front of me, and sometimes this also works against me. I guess this is a personal fault more than anything. I am an all or nothing kind of guy. I either want to invest 100% of my time into the case I’m working on or I want to be working on something else.

To be honest, if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I haven’t taken a proper break in years. I’m really tired. I am starting to become resentful of having to deal with other peoples problems when my own continue to exist, however I’m not exactly sure how to go about properly tackle this issue in my life. Do I reduce my 80 hour working week? This would be incredibly difficult to do when you work as your own boss. There really is no one else to pick up the work.

I will say that the case I’m currently working on is a pretty clear cut one. Obviously confidentiality applies, but I don’t have someone expecting miracles. This is refreshing in a profession that seems to believe the more money you spend, the better your case will be. Although this does ring true it’s also one of the things I dislike about the legal profession. People believe that the law is black and white but the very existence of our court system gives evidence to the contrary. Good lawyers know this and this is how they win.

I’d love to hear from others that are working in the legal field and fail to detach from their work when they’re at home. It may make me feel less alone. Although I’m succeeding in my professional life, sometimes I really do feel like I’m failing in my personal life. Conversely I would also like to hear from those of you that work as lawyers and yet are able to detach themselves from work and home. What is your secret? Is there a magic formula that I am somehow missing?

I’ll update everyone about how the current case I’m working on pans out when it’s okay to reveal more details. Until now I’ll look forward to the verdict. Hopefully then I’ll be relieved of some of this stress.

Time needs to start moving at ludicrous speed and go

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I’ve set myself a goal this week of reading through some of the books I need to read for an upcoming case. There’s only 3 and I say only because this is considerably less than my regular That’s going through 3 very thick books of previous cases to find a precedent for my current case. To some people that may seem hard, but to me it really isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I’m a busy person. It’s incredibly rare that I ever have any time to myself, besides for in between verdicts and some holidays, but I’ve got an even bigger problem. I over commit. This is such a big problem for me because once I’ve committed to doing something, I have to do it. It stays on my mind (although sometimes at the back bubbling away) until I actually find the time to get whatever it is done.

This leads to two other problems. The first is self neglect. Unfortunately I’m not looking after myself the best lately. The start of last year was excellent – I was regularly attending the gym, finding time to eat home cooked meals and even catching up with friends of a weekend. Now, I’m swapping breakfast for coffee, home cooked meals for granola bars and the gym for running from one court room to the next. It’s not healthy and the evidence of this is starting to show. I’m noticeably more tired lately and I haven’t been able to keep to personal commitments such as meeting friends for dinner.

And then there’s the second problem where people begin to see you as lazy and unreliable. I take a lot on and because it can take me time to fulfill commitments people often resort to thinking I am a lazy person, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m just busy. I’ve been implementing some strategies that have helped me to stop listening to people’s judgements however as it was really starting to effect me.

This month will be better. I plan to sleep in until 6am everyday (a luxury). I also want to get that haircut I’ve been putting off (not only because it’s time consuming, but it’s also expensive!). I also want to make it a personal goal to meet my friends for lunch at least once. You may even wonder how I find the time to write this blog. I don’t. I’m actually doing this while I am listening to an audio file of one of the books I need to read (you’ve gotta love technology). I guess I’m just a natural multi-tasker, or someone who is destined to be perpetually busy.

Cue panic stations!

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I am in a state of panic. It’s almost October and upon searching for this years Halloween costume, I realized something. No, it’s not that I’ve wasted half my life defending people that I don’t care about. It’s more shocking than anything I’m yet to encounter in my day to day dealings with accused murderers, and it’s this – they don’t sell lawyer costumes for Halloween. This is how the conversation went:

Me: Hello, I was just wondering where you keep the slutty lawyer costumes?
Shop keep: Pardon?
Me: Oh, well I was just wondering if you have any lawyer costumes for Halloween?
Shop keep: Yes, I heard that, but slutty costumes!? Please! I mean, a nurse is a fantasy, yeah, but who fantasies about their lawyer? I don’t think I’ve met one hot lawyer before.
Me: I’m a lawyer.
Shop keep: Ah, yes, well… there you are.

This conversation wasn’t the only thing that had me lost for words. This was something that grabbed me by surprise. I was in shock. I cried. I laughed. I wasn’t sure what to think. After all, they have all the major professions. Doctor, nurse, police officer, clown – why not lawyer?

It’s okay, I thought. Maybe the fact is that no one sees us as a joke. But then again isn’t there something healthy about being able to laugh at yourself. I can laugh at myself – after my initial shock had worn off I had decided perhaps I could just go as myself.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to go to Halloween as a lawyer. I mean Halloween is about dressing up and I wouldn’t really be doing this if I went as myself (a slutty lawyer? Me? Never!). I just wanted to believe that some man, somewhere, was fantasizing about a seductive lawyer. And then I realized – no I don’t!

It’s not that the clients are dumb – they’re really dumb

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So this may sound a bit harsh. Sure, some of you may have some pretty strong words for me based on this post, but what I’m saying is based purely on my own experience. I have dealt with some pretty, let’s say colorful, clients over the years. For those that don’t know I’m also a gun fanatic. I know the laws about gun safety and about the best gun safe, such as these at, that people can use to ensure they are abiding by the law. After all, I’m a lawyer and this is my bread and butter.

This is why I get so frustrated when I client believes they know more than me. If you’ve studied law you’ll likely know one thing better than anything else, that you’ll never know everything. This is partly why it is so frustrating when we have clients that come to us believing they know more than us.

And this is where the annoying parts of this profession start to take hold. I recently had a client who insisted that his gun safe was suitable according to his state. After reviewing the appropriate information (I can assure you I dug deeper than simply reading a news article) I was able to uncover that no – in fact his gun safe did not comply to the laws of his state. Simple, right? Of course not. Why would a client make something like this simple when they could make it incredibly difficult.

You see the particular safe he had purchased was a bio-metric safe which required a fingerprint to bypass it. The safe was used to store his numerous rifles and I can understand his distress as he had paid a large sum of money for this safe. However, on further investigation we found that the this particular bio-metric scanning system had not been approved for storage in his state. Not only does this highlight a failure on part of this man believing his gun safe to be secure enough to store his weapons, but it highlights a deeper issue that in entrenched in our society. Why has gun safety become such a specialized field and why do we not have a nationwide standard that all manufactures must abide by.

Back to the case. We had discussed in depth that the gun safe was his choice to purchase and as a gun owner, it was his duty to be informed about the restrictions of his state and to abide by them. He agreed that should the case go before a judge that he would not (remember this. He would NOT) blame the manufacturer for negligence on their behalf. You can then imagine my shock when the case did in fact go before a judge and this man claimed that it was not his fault because “they should have told him.”

Getting rid of this case was more satisfying than any verdict. Let me make this clear, folks. You don’t want to be this guy. You don’t want to pay me thousands of dollars to defend you only to decide you’ll create your own defense. I’ll tell you right now, that’s not how it works. So was he successful? I think you know the answer to this.