I practiced law for eight years, and I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. I’ve recounted the first couple of years in a trio of posts unimaginatively entitled Law Practice Part I, and II, and III. The bulk of my time in practice, however, was spent in the as-yet-unwritten Part IV. This post is not Part IV, but a post by The Nutmeg Lawyer reminded me of those years – and one of the reasons why I left practice.
I was becoming a jackass. Read The Nutmeg Lawyer’s post for the gory details. I don’t think that I quite reached the point of alienating those in my professional life – although I know that I did suffer some by way of guilt by association due to working with one of the partners in my firm. I did, however, have a difficult time in turning off the hyper-aggressive litigator persona when I got home. And that, my friends, is not a recipe for either marital or paternal success.
When did it finally dawn on me? The day that the aforesaid partner left my office in a red-faced rage after excoriating me for not being aggressive enough with opposing counsel, and rather than giving him my 2 weeks notice, I found myself considering the idea of putting a framed picture of a pitbull on my desk as a motivational tool. Yikes.
True to my lawyerly instincts, I’ll include a caveat. It doesn’t have to happen – one can certainly be effective as a lawyer, and as a litigator, without being a jerk. I like lawyers. I work with lawyers. I’m married to a lawyer. But, it can happen.
Choose your mentor wisely.