By Kendra Strobel • January 30, 2018•Issues, Other Issues
Law school taught me a lot of things. It taught me how to read a case, write a brief, argue an issue, and drink as much coffee as humanly possible. Among the things that law school didn’t teach me, however, was how devastating it would be the first time the law broke my heart. In all fairness, I’m not blaming law school for this – I have no idea how you teach someone what it will feel like when you watch a family torn apart and can’t do anything to stop it.
For those of you who haven’t faced this yet, know that it probably will happen at some point and when it does, it’s going to suck. Your heart will ache. Your head will hurt. You may want to cry. You’ll want to fight – take that and run with it. Take the adrenaline and use it to fuel a long, emotional research session in an attempt to figure out how to fix this. If you appeal it, remember how you felt when you read the judge’s order for the first time and channel that energy into your brief and arguments. Remember the rest of your clients and make sure you’re doing what needs to be done for them, too.
Remember that our profession is a hard one, a stressful one, and an emotional one at times. Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your clients – “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is somewhat of a cheesy cliché, but it’s also true. Keep in mind that sometimes everything will go your way, and sometimes it won’t. Sometimes you’ll nail your research, your brief, your argument, your hearing, and you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll nail all of that and still lose. This is why we make sure clients know we can’t guarantee an outcome.
The first time the law broke my heart, I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away from the profession forever. I couldn’t see how I would ever love the law again, not after that betrayal. My confidence was shaken. The imposter syndrome was back. I was convinced that I didn’t belong in the courtroom, that I had no right to advise and counsel my clients, and that I was terrible at doing research and creating clever arguments. Spoiler alert: I didn’t quit the law. I fought back. In time, my confidence came back. I trusted my research and my arguments. I made it through one hearing, and then another, and then another, until I started to feel like I belonged in the courtroom again.
The law will (probably) break your heart. When it does, it will be okay. You will be okay.