John G. Simon
BAMSL President, 2018-19
Managing Partner, The Simon Law Firm, P.C.
Isn't this a great time to be a lawyer?
Also, it might be tempting to compare our own reality-grounded lives unfavorably to TV show lawyers. After all, those TV lawyers have a knack for opening new glamorous cases and trying them before juries in 1 hour. As tempting as that thought might sometimes be, being a real-life lawyer is much better than being one of those TV lawyers. Being a real-life lawyer offers the immense payback of working on challenging real-life cases. Being a real-life lawyer stretches us to become better at many life skills and it offers us the opportunity to offer community service to those who desperately need it.
What would you rather be than a lawyer? Over your life, you probably had many opportunities to do something other than being a lawyer and yet you continue to be a lawyer. I have heard dozens of good reasons for choosing to work as a lawyer. What are your own favorite reasons? Is it the challenge of working with others to resolve complex problems? Does it energize you to dig into research to explore new areas of law? Are you attracted by the challenge of applying abstract principles to real life disputes? Do you enjoy the conceptual work of reframing potential threats to your cases as opportunities?
Or perhaps you enjoy the flow of new cases, clients and witnesses into your office. Do you find yourself thinking that there is no better way to learn how to handle a new type of case than by actually taking on one of those cases? Perhaps you are attracted to this profession because every day offers the opportunity of learning something new and intriguing about the world, whether it be consulting with an expert or figuring out how to handle a difficult client.
Those of us who have been practicing law for a while become increasingly aware that the practice of law invites and rewards creative thinking, and we are attracted to the practice of law for that reason.
Maybe you love the parallels between trial law and live theater—in a trial, you get to tell your client’s compelling story in a format akin to a theatrical play. Or maybe you enjoy exploring new effective ways to communicate with jurors, judges and other attorneys. Maybe you revel in the courage it took to accept an especially difficult case. Some of us are intrigued by the challenges of using digital tools to enhance the efficiencies of maintaining a law practice. Many of us especially enjoy working closely with co-counsel and other members of our legal team to do the best job possible on a complex case.
Many of us enjoy the fact that our profession is a big tent offering much personal, financial and social flexibility. There are many types of legal cases we can work on during our careers, and many us explore more than a few of these areas before finding our niche. Many of us enjoy the fact that numerous skills we learn to use as lawyers are transferable to other professions and avocations. For instance, communication skills, negotiation skills, problem-solving skills and management skills are all valued by most professions. Lawyers often are called upon by others to analyze, mediate and resolve complex disputes. Thus, many of us are engaged in activities outside the formal practice of law that require our skillsets.
These are just some of these reasons I have heard from lawyers who love working in the legal profession. There is another reason that deserves special mention, however: the opportunity to make one's community a better place to live. It is difficult to think of a profession better equipped to advocate for needed changes on behalf of those who are relatively powerless. Given the complexity of society, it has become obvious that those without the assistance of a lawyer are often completely left behind, both economically and socially. This means that lawyers dedicated to public interest law are needed more now than ever.
I have found it to be an honor and a joy to be a lawyer. I know you have, too, and that is how this publication found its way into your hands. If you are looking for a way to use your lawyer skillset to give back to your community, I invite you to visit the BAMSL website, which lists dozens of opportunities.
Thank you for your time in reading this.
This article also appeared in the July 2018 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine.