August 20, 2008
Does being a lawyer mean "a life on the sidelines"?
Consider what the young, precocious, mega-talented, persistent and world class pain-in-the-ass Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) thought--years before becoming Prime Minster of England--as he abandoned his legal career before it really started, in favor of writing and politics. According to one biographer, he exclaimed:
"The Bar: pooh! law and bad tricks till we are forty, and then, with the most brilliant success, the prospect of gout and a coronet. Besides, to succeed as an advocate, I must be a great lawyer, and to be a great lawyer, I must give up my chance of being a great man."
--Disraeli, A. Maurois (Random House 1928)
Sidelined? Hobbled? Self-discarded in the great race of life?
Maybe. Hard-driving lawyer friends (both in-house and in law firms) do articulate a feeling of being "sidelined"--yet they are very proud of what they do as lawyers.
You may think: Why merely advise--when you could lead, create and command? And do that every day? Lots of lawyers are Type-As. How many lawyers who advise great companies really end up as officers, CEOs, and COOs? Sure, lots of us run for office. But should more of us throw our golfing hat in the ring of life? Does law school and "the profession" make many of us so risk-averse, passive and routinely academic in our approach to life that it knocks the will and energy to lead out of us? Or were we just that way from the beginning?
Is just being a good lawyer always "enough"?
Posted by JD Hull at August 20, 2008 08:43 PM
"Does law school and "the profession" make many of us so risk-averse, passive and routinely academic in our approach to life that it knocks the will and energy to lead out of us? Or were we just that way from the beginning?"
Perhaps if you are a transaction lawyer but I suspect not if you are a 12 coffee's a day guns a blazing litigator.
Are partners not the equivalent of CEO's? Do they not lead the firm, find the clients, get the cream?
Posted by: D McCulley at August 20, 2008 06:09 AM
Posted by: Moe.Levine at August 20, 2008 07:10 PM
I find this post interesting on many levels. Risk-averse? Solo Practitioners are not risk-averse. When they open their own practices many become lawyer/slash-something else. Run for office, build other types of services/products. We don't view law as the end of the run but a launching pad. I don't think it's the profession so much as the personality that drives what one does with their degree. An entrepreneurial spirit expresses itself in many ways. I've never felt contained by the law, but then I haven't worked for another in 16 years...and before that had many entrepreneurial years.
Posted by: Susan Cartier Liebel at August 21, 2008 06:15 AM