Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Run for the hills! It's a Lawyer!

In my non-work-related life, I often find myself asked what I do for a living.  And when I tell people I'm a lawyer (who works for the court system, rather than representing clients), I get a wide variety of responses.

All too often, it's a tirade against the legal system.  Either based on some unfortunate experience they've had with the system, or their view of high-profile trials where the wrong verdict was reached.  Sometimes both.  The point is, I meet a lot of people who have about zero faith in our legal system. 

Which is really sad -- because from where I'm sitting, the system generally works.  Of course, you don't see all the cases where the jury reaches the right answer, or where the parties settled before trial, or even where a mistake was corrected on appeal.  But the system DOES work.  It's slow; it's expensive; and sometimes it messes up -- but by and large, we get to the right answer eventually.  (And sometimes when we get the wrong answer, we do so by design -- because, for example, we'd rather let a criminal go free than convict an innocent person.)

I've met a lot of people and, therefore, have told a lot of them what I do for a living.  The best response I've ever received came from an actor.  I had interviewed a few Broadway actors for an article -- and I'd been just awed by the whole experience.  I mean, wow, these dudes performed on Broadway eight shows a week.  How cool is that?  I, on the other hand, sit in an office all day, reading cases and drafting legal memos.

After the interview, one of the actors asked me what I did for a living, so I told him.  And he said, "That's great!"  And I said -- well, I basically said, "Come on -- you're on Broadway; I sit in an office all day."  And he said, "I just entertain people; you can actually bring about change."

I was stunned.  Hell, I don't even view my job that way.  But I was amazed that I'd met someone who was so... not cynical about the whole thing that he viewed the legal system not as something where runaway juries misled by slimy lawyers issue outrageous verdicts -- but as a place where justice can be done and legal opinions can be issued that actually make the state (or the country) better.

How idealistic!  How wonderfully refreshing.


rgwindland said...

Isn't that great?? It really must have made your day. Just remeber him when all the jerks are spouting off! Rhonda

swibirun said...

I like most of the lawyers I have dealt with and I used to work in a risk management office dealing with a lot of them.  I just couldn't stand a few but these were people I would not have liked if they were a baker, a football player, or a taxidermist.