I suppose it would be true to say that my entire blog is really one long discussion about my pet peeves. It seems I have quite a lot of pet peeves! Well, today’s post is overtly about a major pet peeve of mine, maybe my number one pet peeve.
This post is not about any one person and is simply a cathartic release for me but if it gets you thinking, then I will consider it successful.
Most of you reading this post know that I’m a lawyer. I am proud to say that I graduated from Regent University’s School of Law in May of 2002, passed the Florida Bar in July of 2002 and was sworn in as a lawyer in the State of Florida on September 27, 2002. I’m still a lawyer. I carefully maintain my license and keep up with legal developments. I’ve had three (3) bar complaints over the years since 2002 but all were dismissed by the bar as unfounded. I’ve never had a malpractice suit filed against me. These are big things in the legal world and especially in family law, which had been my main area of focus for nearly 10 years.
My life’s work has been walking through the legal system with clients, advocating for them and protecting their interests. My specific role and the types of law/cases have taken many forms over the years, but I’m proud of the things I’ve been able to do with the help and support of my husband and my family. I built my own firm, hustled to get my own clients, made sure my employees were paid every month and made room for a family. I also made room for pro bono work and helping clients who couldn’t afford a lawyer and children who needed a voice. I served on boards and I worked hard to make my community better.
I did that, with a lot of help and support of my husband and family.
It was hard and it took hours and hours of my time.
I sacrificed many things to build my career and worked really really hard.
I worried about malpractice, dreamed about clients and trials.
I researched, sometimes feeling desperate that I was failing a client.
I say all of that to give you some context. I say all of that to give you a birds eye view into my background, what I’ve sacrificed to get to where I am.
So, when I meet someone new and I tell them I’m a lawyer and their response is to say that they were going to go to law school or were going to take the LSAT or did take the LSAT or started law school or whatever, it’s off putting and borders on offensive. I do understand that the person in front of me is likely trying to build rapport, to find some common ground. I try to keep this in mind when I respond.
Getting into law school is hard. Getting through law school is hard. Passing the bar on the first try is hard. Being a lawyer, every day, is hard.
I did that. I put in the time, the blood, sweat and tears to build and maintain a practice, to stay away from malpractice, to ensure that my clients’ needs were addressed. I’m not claiming to be perfect or that I was always successful. I wasn’t always successful. What I know that I did do, is give everything of myself to ensure success. I cared oh so much about each case, each client, each document, each issue.
When someone blithely and ignorantly reduces all of that work and time and effort to something anyone could do or at least the person in front of me could do, it’s difficult. I try very hard to smile and nod and not react. I really do.
Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes it’s just not a good day.
You see, I had to walk away from all of that. Everything I built. Everything that I had worked so very hard to achieve.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids and my family are so much important than my law practice. When I knew I would have so much less time than I thought, that I have a terminal illness, it was the obvious, logical choice to walk towards a different life, to make the very most of the shortened time I have.
But it was HARD.
Don’t mistake what I’m saying, I have no regrets.
I know in my bones that I made the right choice; it wasn’t, however, a choice that I made lightly.
It’s just that when a person who didn’t make the decision and commitment to become a lawyer and maintain a license to practice law blithely says that they could, it not only belittles the actual effort that I actually made to accomplish that, it also reminds me that I walked away from that.
This is my reminder to think before you speak.