Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Real Life Of A Lawyer

I am a lawyer.  Do you know what I do?  Let me explain it to you with two stories.  The first story is a joke and the second one is true.

A college senior was exploring career options.  He heard engineering and law are good jobs so he arranged interviews with an engineer and a lawyer.

He visits the engineer and speaks to him about the field.  During the meeting, the senior asks the engineer, "How much is two plus two?"  The engineer answers without pause, "Why, four, of course."

The senior later visits a lawyer.  He asks the lawyer, "How much is two plus two?"

The lawyer studies the senior closely.  The lawyer stands up, walks over to the door and shuts it.  Then he walks over to the window and pulls the shades closed.  He returns to his desk and sits down.  Looking steadily at the senior, the lawyer leans over the desk and whispers, "How much do you want it to be?"

If you think that's an exaggeration, let me now tell you a true story that happened to me a decade ago.

I have a general civil practice and all of my cases come by referrals from satisfied clients and other lawyers.  For a while, I represented several police-officers in civil matters.  (My father and brother were cops.)

One of my police clients referred another officer to me whom I had never met.  During the first meeting, I asked the man how I could help him.  He leaned across the table and whispered, "Do you handle police disability cases?"  I said yes.

I then asked him, "Do you have a disability case?" 

He answered -- and I will never forget these words -- "Not yet..."

A few months later, I heard he injured his trigger-finger and applied for lifetime disability benefits (which, for cops, are very generous).  His application was approved so he had no need for a lawyer.  I never saw him again.


  1. Wow, what a shady guy! I wonder if he deliberately injured his finger or if he was faking it. It's funny, people usually think of lawyers as being unethical, but their clients can be just as devious.

  2. That is crazy! Just like what Sage said above, clients can be just as devious. Amazing!

  3. Shame on him!!! In our country we are not suprised by that kind of behaviour (although I don't think our disability is anything to write home about)but you never think that the 'men in blue' would do something like that ~ On all the TV shows the police look like the "good guys". Go figure!!!

  4. WHOA!! Are you a fan of The Wire? There's a scene in season one where two older cops are talking about this very thing. That's crazy. I bet you have a lot of great stories. Next time we get to hang out I'd love to hear some more.


  5. Ah! That's wild. I imagine as a lawyer you meet all kinds of "unique" individuals.

  6. Wow that is a bit unnerving. And to think after all these years it stuck with you.

    Im in the process of writing my LSATS (going back to school yet again) and the idea of law and justice seems appealing for sure, but I wonder at what cost does it come at?

  7. I've given a lot of thought to being a lawyer... this story doesn't surprise me one bit. Not everyone is that dishonest but I have gone though life seeing dishonesty rewarded and it makes me sick.

  8. I LOVE this. I was laughing out loud...
    Even your 'true story' can be a joke.
    Thanks for the nice compliments on NYE outfit by the way...

  9. Omg. That is People!

  10. Im sure that in your line of work there are days when you go home and think... wow, people can really be terrible. And on the other hand, I'm sure that you must have moments of feeling triumph for helping someone who really needs you to fight the good fight for them.

    You must see an interesting cross-section of the population.

  11. I think a lot of lawyers get a bad rap - I worked with many in commercial real estate for years, and they were some of the nicest people I knew. Very sharp, and with a good way to see a lot of different sides, not just black and white. I bet you are one of the good ones, too. :)

  12. I've often wished that I'd been trained to think as analytically as lawyers, but your second story astounds me. I have cops in the family as well.

    Hypothetical question: Is a lawyer's conscience ever bothered by something his/her work requires of them?

  13. Terri: Of course. In the beginning of my career, I was forced to do things by a boss that made me miserable. Now, I'm my own boss so I steer clear of those situations.

  14. Your true story shows that it's not all the "lawyer's fault" if you know what I mean - it depends a lot on who your customer is and IF you as a lawyer decide to take a case.
    Here, there are several lawyers that once you know who they are representing... you can tell they are guilty !

  15. What an interesting story! I've always wondered if it is like tv and all.

  16. I love this blog and know absolutely where you are coming from. Being a lawyer teaches one about human nature.