It has been said that a lawyer is “a person who writes a 10,000 page document and calls it a brief.” Yet, there are some who still dare to venture into the practice with the hopes of becoming a great lawyer. However, even the “great lawyers,” at the 5,000th page of that brief is perhaps asking the question, “Why didn’t I go into finance?” Or maybe the “young lawyer,” who may be asking themselves, “Do I still have time to change my profession?” No matter who you are, what type of lawyer you are, these questions were likely in your mind at some point in time. Every lawyer, at one point in time, was an L1, in the Socratic Method hot seat. Not one of us could forget those Landmark cases… Hawkins v. Mcgee, International Shoe, Palsgraph, and Pierson v Post. We remember them as the hairy hands case, the exploding fireworks case and the dispute over a dead deer case. (Clearly veganism was not a thing in 1805.) Unfortunately, what those Landmark cases did not teach us was how to interpret complex insurance policies, or how to put a number value on a traumatic brain injury or wrongful death. Nor did they teach us how to deal with hurting victims, the families of hurting victims, or how to fight injustice on behalf of our clients. So why did we become lawyers? The truth of the matter is simple; to do just that. Truth is, we love what we do. However, the question that remains is — how do we become one of the great lawyers? Truth is, we did not need law school to teach us the practical things. Instead, we have learned how to be great by watching each other, listening, practicing, and learning from each other. (Also, binge watching lawyer shows like How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal.)Truth is, we wouldn’t change our profession for anything. As agonizing as those cases in law school, as agonizing as that 10,000 page brief, as agonizing as (insert your daily struggle here) there is something about lawyering that drives us, that pushes us, that makes us better. Each of us has our own story, our own passion and our own success. Your story shapes you and makes you who you are — a great lawyer. Truth is, in this wonderful profession, we have the privilege of writing our own stories, and seeking our own passions. Whether you practice civil law, criminal law, family law, civil rights law, there is not one facet of this practice that doesn’t entail seeking passion, truth, and justice. We have the privilege of seeking justice both for ourselves and others. That is what I love about the law. That is what I believe makes a great lawyer. Somewhere, in between you and me, somewhere in between Hawkins and Mcgee, there is a burning passion to seek justice, to seek the truth. A great lawyer is one who sets out to find it.
Amanda J. DeFeo, Esq.Attorney at LawPillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP