LAWFUEL – Law Newswire –
Three summers ago, my wife and I were driving my two older kids to the airport. The academic year was about to resume. The younger child, my son, was returning to college; the older, my daughter, to law school.
“Say,” I heard my son ask his sister in the backseat, “what do you think you’ll do when you get done with law school?” My daughter expressed some uncertainty but ended up answering, “I think I’ll become a litigator.”
I nearly hit the brakes.
“Oh,” I heard myself moan, “don’t be a litigator.”
My advice to my daughter had the usual effect—another demonstration of Newton’s third law, the one about equal and opposite reactions, a rule that also applies to parental advice. Before the academic year was over, my daughter had enrolled in a legal clinic and tried her first and second lawsuits. It was those experiences, rather than anything she heard from me, that led her away from the courtroom.
But, candidly, I was shocked by my own reaction. Because for the last 20 years I have chosen to continue my occasional role as a litigator, despite having the option not to do so thanks to my literary career. I have always believed that I’ve had a charmed life as a courtroom lawyer. When I left law school, I could not imagine becoming anything other than a litigator. The courtroom was where the law was made, where the fundamental struggle to fit the law to facts took place.
The people writing contracts were, in my youthful view, not much different from consultants. Although I have learned to love and appreciate hundreds of transactional lawyers in the years since, I notice, in looking over my novels, that I have not yet had a hero who is any other kind of a lawyer but a litigator. My protagonists have been prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, a judge, a tort lawyer, a commercial litigator—even journalists. But no deal guys or gals. In the restricted zone of my imagination, it’s the litigators who are the real thing.
So why is it—given the satisfaction I’ve taken from being a litigator—that some piece of my heart shrieked out in opposition to the idea of my child doing the same?