July 27, 2012
Opposing counsel are paid to undermine your work, setting traps and hoping to catch you in them. It can be daunting, if not paralyzing, to sit in your office and think about the fact that at any given moment a group of opposing lawyers are plotting against you!
Clients hire you so that you can take their legal worries and hoist them onto your shoulders. It makes you a professional worrier. Clients may be demanding and unreasonable while taking advantage of you – particularly if you make the unwise decision of giving them your home phone number. They second-guess the tough calls you make that turn out poorly and wonder why you recommended against accepting a settlement offer when the jury later rejects your claims. Clients make these demands while paying your fees late, complaining about your fees regardless of the terrific results you achieve, and threatening you when things begin to sour in the life of the lawsuit. Because almost all lawsuits have both high and low moments as they wind their way through the pretrial process, there tend to be ample opportunities for these negative traits to manifest themselves in your clients.
Judges can be quick-tempered, indecisive, wrong about either the law or the facts, arbitrary, lazy, biased, and long on memory of your past mistakes in their presence. Judges sometimes appear to be friends with your adversary and, even when being even-handed, it is often tough to predict how they will rule on any given issue.
Given all of the potential for distress from this unique combination it is no wonder that you are often left feeling a sense of uncertainty and apprehension. This breeds worry that may manifest itself in self-destructive behaviors. Lawyers suffer from generalized anxiety disorders, ulcers, and negative addictions. If you have practiced for any significant length of time I bet you can immediately call to mind images of colleagues who have succumbed to the pressures of the practice. Is there a way to avoid or escape this despair? Absolutely.