When lawyers speak with envy or admiration about other lawyers, they do not mention a lawyer=s devotion to family or public service, or a lawyer=s innate sense of fairness, or even a lawyer=s skill at trying cases or closing deals, nearly as much as they mention a lawyer=s billable hours, or stable of clients, or annual income.
It is very difficult for a young lawyer immersed in this culture day after day to maintain the values she had as a law student. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, young lawyers change. They begin to admire things they did not admire before, be ashamed of things they were not ashamed of before, find it impossible to live without things they lived without before. Somewhere, somehow, a lawyer changes from a person who gets intense pleasure from being able to buy her first car stereo to a person disappointed with a $100,000 bonus.
It is too easy to be seduced by material things.
I've been thinking about that. Most of my career I did not track billable hours as much as we do now. Where I work, the demands are modest. But I deal with people all the time who work on the same files as I do (as co-counsel or as counsel for co-defendants), and I'm learning, as well as learning about my own weaknesses.
It is important to keep good examples in mind, of those who saw the better way.