Friday, November 17, 2006

On ethics and professional life

The excerpt below links to a very well written essay:

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.

He is correct when he states "Research has shown that, with the exception of those living in poverty, people are almost always wrong in thinking that more money will make them happier."

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.


Anonymous said...

And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Marysangel said...


I recently lost my daughter 15 years old. I was reading yours and realized you are a morman like my daughter and myself. I thought you may want to look at the begining of a blog that I just put up. Not very good at this it's the first time I've ever done a blog. So bare with me while I update it along the way. Your words are inspiring if you made it through the loss of three children somehow I can make it as well. Thank you so much I look forward to your reply.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss. Having a blog is a wonderful way to honor someone you love. Also, there is much healing that comes from sharing.

Anonymous said...

In regards to billing, I felt that if my grandpa knew the cost of the lawyers to get him out of a nursing home back into his own him with 24 hour care and also the cost of the lower that became his power of attorney that he would be very upset. He had dementia so he did not have an awareness and the power of attorney lawyer's bill was not given in full until his death. The most expensive law firm was not paid out of his pocket. I saw little evidence that they put in much time. They submitted for evidence the very report that we told them not to as we felt it was biased by those who believe in nursing homes rather than home care. They never went to see my grandfather at the nursing home or check out his conditions.

My grandfather was a welder for much of his adult life and did not earn a very high wage. He saved much of his money and put it in cd's as he got older. He went without so many of life luxuries. He lived in a small house. He grew up in the depression and I think that influenced how frugal he was.

Stephen said...

Very well said.