Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The One Comment That Got To Me

No, not those comments. I've been the subject of negative comments in print and online for longer than any social media hack has been working from home after their failed law career. I'm not talking about the anonymous online comments. Those generate laughter and some eye rolls, but I'm lucky enough to have been the brunt of hatred ever since I opened my big mouth in college. It rolls off me like another article about how the way I practice law is dead and I must get on the train of a total virtual practice or I will die.

I'm talking about a comment I heard from a lawyer. A lawyer I've been a friend to, a lawyer I've advised, counseled, and helped do some things. This lawyer has become successful in their own right, both professionally and politically, and never fails to say thank you. I like this lawyer, and I'm glad this lawyer is doing well.

So the lawyer tells me that some lawyer asked whether my friend really believed that I helped them out of unselfish motives. There of course had to be some motive, it couldn't be just...that...I like this lawyer and was there for the advice.

I've been dealing with this for my entire career. From the first time I joined a Bar association, went on the board, ran for office, ran for another office, on another board, in another association, the lawyers whose entire practice is the walk from their car to the courthouse and back to car to go home, have always believed that lawyers like me only get involved in things, in other people's campaigns and efforts, out of an ulterior motive.

And that motive is?

To become a judge.

Of course.

This is understandable. There are plenty of lawyers who climb the ladder of bar associations and other organizations with the goal in mind of wearing the robe.

But it's never been mine. No, I'm sorry to disappoint, sorry to shock the world, but my motive has never been to make $142,000 a year, sitting on a bench everyday saying "denied," "granted," "next case," and hoping every 6 years that no one runs against me and takes my job.

Nope, I've never applied for an appointment, never filed to run, never told anyone I was interested.

Actually, about 10 years ago there was an article in the paper about a (failed) effort I was trying to start to have every local bar association pass a resolution banning judicial candidates from joining their organization. I would see the parade of otherwise socially inept judges all of a sudden becoming members of this and that association during their campaign. I wanted it stopped. The associations wouldn't touch it.

I'm 42, I love practicing law. I love a new client, I love writing motions, I love negotiating. I love the fact that my income depends on me, and isn't the same amount no matter what I do. I love that every day is different.

But the morons out there can't see that. No way, I must want to be a judge - why else would I help people, plan CLE events, advocate for changes in the law?

Why must it be that the only reason people get involved in their profession is to leave it and go do something else, like judging?

Yeah, maybe in 15, 20 years I'll change my mind, but no time soon, and it won't have anything to do with the things I've done in bar associations or charities.

I do these things because I like to do them, because I value relationships, because with the people I get to know and work with, I don't have to rely on my twitter account or other website to bring me clients.

What I have realized though, is the same people who will never imagine that there are lawyers out there that just enjoy getting involved in their profession, are the same people who think the only reason to blog is for business. These are the same people who have the robotic script: "I see you have a blog, you get business from it?"

The perception is not limited to any one thing, it's a general perception among desperate and unhappy lawyers that those who don't spend their days banging their head against the wall trying to drum up business and instead are doing other things, can only be doing them with ulterior motives.

So to you, the asshole that asked my friend that question, yes I know you read my blog, I know you read it, hate it, but secretly wonder if you could do the same thing. To you, the one who asked that question wondering if you could get the same advice and counsel from me, wondering if there was something you could hang your hat on to say "AH-HA," it's not there. You've reached a dead end.

And I hope you have a good mirror.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and aren't a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

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