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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


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