Are you passionate about the law? Do you think the law is a beautiful thing? Do you adore it?
The law is a street fight. It’s trench warfare. There’s nothing beautiful about it. It’s inelegant, messy and dangerous. Sometimes the right side loses. Often everyone loses.
Our justice system’s the worst possible — except for (to crib shamelessly from Churchill) all the others that have been tried.
Justice? Justice is a whore. Some people think they can look at the offense report in a criminal case, investigate, interview witnesses, and know what the accused deserves. These people are delusional about their own abilities and importance.
Other people write articles for the Texas Bar Journal about their fields of law; if the articles not about trial law or criminal law, or if they’re written by people who call themselves “litigators” I generally skip them. I don’t care who the next State Bar of Texas president will be, or who’s running the Texas Young Lawyers’ Association. Most months I read the Texas Bar Journal only to see who’s been disbarred and who’s died, and to make sure that I’m still on neither list.
Any area of the law becomes much more interesting to me when it intersects the criminal law — I once became an expert in a narrow area of real estate law when I had a client who was accused of stealing houses from widows. I’m not entirely incurious about other areas of law, but they rank pretty high on my list of Things I Don’t Want to Learn More About Unless I Have To. Right up there with . . . .
Hmm. They seem to be at the top of that particular list.
It’s hard for me to think of anything less relevant to a general criminal defense trial practice than probate law. Except maybe oil-and-gas law. Quantum physics is more relevant. Herodotus is more relevant. The commedia dell’arte is more relevant. Dog training is more relevant to a general criminal defense practice than most other areas of law are.
I am passionate about defending people, and feel fortunate to be a criminal-defense lawyer, but I’m not proud to be a lawyer qua lawyer. If I couldn’t be a criminal-defense lawyer, I think I’d hang up my spurs and be a mechanic.
I generally don’t even like lawyers. Most of them are stultified and depressed. Here’s a clue: if your business card describes you as an “attorney” you’re probably taking this law thing way too seriously. If your stationery carries the abbreviation, “esq.” you’re way past “taking it too seriously.” The lawyer jokes all have some basis in fact; most of the bad things people think about lawyers are too often true.
No, I don’t love the law.