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"This Is Real"

I recently left the country to attend my sister’s wedding. That’s why I didn’t put up a post last week. It was actually the longest I’ve gone without putting in a full day of work since Adrian and I started the firm, and yesterday was my first full day back. Yesterday morning, I had what I consider to be an extremely important hearing.

Although I wasn’t away from work for a particularly long time, it was long enough to make some of the feelings I get before big hearings or trials seem slightly foreign. The hour-long commute to court gave me plenty of time to think about what I was feeling.

The thrill of going into court and making an argument you believe in on behalf of a client is hard to describe. It’s a mix of the feeling you get before you go on stage to perform a concert and the feeling you get before you start the bar exam, but both feelings are multiplied by ten.

Everything gets amplified because there are real consequences. “This is real,” I think every time I go into court. The numbers I say in court correspond to real amounts of time or money. Real, immediate harm may occur to another human if I do not do my job well. Everyone in court is just talking, but the jail is made of bricks and mortar. The people jailing my client are real people, just like me and my client. They have real weapons and a real intention to ensure my client remains in their custody.

In our daily lives, words often don’t have consequences. People frequently say things that are unlikely to ever result in action. In court, however, a little slice of reality hides behind every word. That little slice of reality depends on my words.

As I drove to court yesterday morning, my job felt especially real. That’s a feeling I hope I never forget. It puts things in perspective.

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3 Responses to ""This Is Real""

  1. Matt Brown says:

    In a lot fewer years, I’d say the same is true for me as well. In a literal sense, though. I definitely believe in what I’m saying when I argue for an extra week’s continuance to spare a client the inconvenience of rescheduling a dentist appointment, but I’d be lying if I said I got a thrill from it. Claiming I believe in that argument even seems a bit like hyperbole.

    Saying “you’re passionate about” instead of “you believe in” probably would have been a better choice of words.

  2. shg says:

    The thrill of going into court and making an argument you believe in on behalf of a client is hard to describe.

    More than 25 years later, I’ve still never made an argument in court I didn’t believe in. At least when I was making it.

  3. Clooch says:

    That exact feeling is the main reason I didn’t want to go into criminal law to begin with and why my hair continues to turn grey despite the fact.

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