Monday, August 29, 2011

That thing that lawyers do.

I like being a lawyer. Granted, I'm fairly new at this, but right now it feels like all the years of hard work, studying, focus, second guessing myself are paying off. I have a skill. A skill that other people value. A skill that wasn't given to me, that I had to fight to get. And who knew it would be a good fit? Every time I'm hired to do something, big or small, I feel alive, useful and needed. And being paid for something that I've done, that I've created, allows me to be independent and prove all those who said I couldn't do it wrong again. I wish I could say that when I do those things that lawyers do my disability doesn't matter entirely- it matters. Litigators are trained to look a certain way, to stand a certain way, to turn when needed for dramatic effect, to know where to place the podium depending if they direct or cross a witness. Presentation is key, we learn in trial practice. The goal, to establish a connection with the jury, to convince them, to appear confident. Being in a wheelchair gives you limited body language, there are no podiums of the right height  that I've seen and who knows what does the juror think or feel, how uncomfortable he may get if he sees the attorney rolling left and right. A lot depends on impression.

But when I draft it doesn't matter. When I draft, I play with words, I put them together for the best outcome. It's just my brain and the problem. Like a puzzle or a game. How you phrase things, how you arrange things, matters. You want to do a good job. You walk away and you come back only to change things or switch them up. A contract, a complaint, a statute -all are organic works of art. I was lucky enough to have an amazing drafting instructor in law school. She taught me when to use "will", "may", "must" and   not to use "shall" or passive voice in contracts. I don't always do things the way she wanted  us to and I'm sure she wouldn't approve of everything I write, especially given deadlines, but I have a better understanding and I agonize over every paragraph. Her class was like a boot camp of English grammar and a marathon of assignments and I'm thankful for that. It makes me want to rewrite every contract I write, but I have a skill,  a career. Hats off to you, Margaret Temple-Smith! 

1 comment:

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