If you’ve missed Part I of this article, you can read it here.
7. Lawyers Are People. (Yes, This Is Shocking News!) Sometimes We Cry.
In some practice areas, you’re regularly exposed to trauma. As attorney Kimberly Graham shared, “If you do juvenile court work, you have to look at photos of abused and neglected children. You can never unsee that. Carrying some of the things we see and hear as juvenile court lawyers, carrying them with self-compassion and grace is all we can manage on some days. Other days, we just cry. And contrary to popular opinion, there is crying in the law. And should be.”
“Many lawyers, especially litigators, perceive qualities such as empathy, authenticity, and collaborative spirit that are essential for success in relationships and in most other professions to be liabilities in the practice of law. These lawyers may feel compelled to leave those qualities outside the office rather than harnessing the enormous positive energy that those qualities can provide to fuel their work. It’s no wonder that so many lawyers have low psychic energy and feel disconnected from their authentic selves in doing their jobs.” ~Robert Holland
Even if you’re not crying yourself to sleep every night, being a lawyer is still hard. As attorney Carole Bess says, “It’s almost impossible for us to ever quit thinking about what we do.”
8. It’s Not Easy — We Just Make It Look Easy.
“When things go smoothly, it’s not because it was easy and could have been done by a non-lawyer, but because the job was done well. I agree the ‘value’ issue is a big one — and something even my husband and I have discussed when he has had to hire a lawyer.” ~Anne Gyemant Paris
“My father’s law partner had a saying: ‘If it wasn’t for the opposing counsel, the judges, and the clients, the practice of law would be a great way to make a living’” ~Lee Herman
9. Oh. And About That 0.1 Hour?
“When I bill .3 for something, and the client cuts it to .1, I then have to spend .4-5 looking for the documentation to prove it wasn’t accomplish-able in 6 minutes. The billing game is ludicrous and makes me hate my job.” ~Elizabeth R. Bain
“I’m not billing you for nearly all the time I work on your case. I worry about your case. I worry about you. I take my work personally. It’s with me most of the time. I want you to be happy at the end of the day, but I don’t control a lot of the outcome. Oh, and almost always your case will cost you less if you don’t DIY some of it before you come to me. Even if you are a lawyer.” ~Emilie Fairbanks
10. By The Way, Not All Lawyers Are Rich.
Many lawyers complained about the public’s perception that all lawyers are filthy rich. In reality, being a lawyer is a very difficult way to earn a decent living.
“Fees: No, charging $250/hour doesn’t mean I make half a million dollars a year. When you’re selling services, there is a perception that there is no overhead, because there’s no cost for tangible goods sold; what you bill must be why [all lawyers] are rich. Many clients just don’t get that you have to pay for an office, a phone, a license, research, staff, utilities, office supplies, etc., and that, even for a small practice, that cost of overhead can easily amount to $75-100/hour of what you bill.” ~Rick Rutledge
“Non-lawyers think we are rich, when in fact, especially as a solo, sometimes I have 16-hour days with only 1 billable hour. Solos don’t have a guaranteed paycheck and 40 hours of pay/week. Every hour is earned, but not all hours generate income. It is HARD WORK.” ~Julie Tolek
11. Clients Not Understanding What They Are Paying For.
A lot of clients don’t understand that the commodity we’re selling is our time and knowledge. We’ve spent a lot of time and money gaining this knowledge and can’t afford to give it away for free (at least not with six-figure student loan debt).
“We are paid for our time and our judgment. A lot of clients don’t think that’s worth paying for.” ~Monica Elkinton-Englund
“Our time is valuable and not free.” ~Joel Wolff
Often, despite our fancy six-figure education, there’s still a lot of stuff we don’t have answers to. As attorney Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik puts it, “We don’t know everything about every aspect of the law just because we are lawyers. You wouldn’t go to a GP for brain surgery, and you wouldn’t go to a probate lawyer for intellectual property issues (or vice versa). Yet so often the “just one question” is way beyond our knowledge base, no matter how accomplished we are.”
Last but not least, in case no one ever warned you: “The law is a very jealous mistress.” ~Tina R Mills
This article previously appeared on Above the Law.