One Lawyer Gives Thanks

Lawyers deal in the harshest realities life can offer. Our clients turn to us to keep them out of prison, to save their relationships with children, to save their homes, to save their businesses from ruin. This, stacked on top of the adversarial nature of the American legal system, makes many lawyers miserable.

And if that weren’t enough, recently-licensed attorneys face crushing debt and few job opportunities while judges keep refusing to hold law schools accountable for their part in creating this mess.

So what’s there to be thankful for?

Well, I’m thankful for a lot. And I’m thankful to be a lawyer too. Among lots of things, I am thankful for the following.

Obviously important stuff that lawyers often take for granted

Let me get all existential for a moment. Do you have any idea how unlikely it is, given the size of the universe, that you are even here at all? That any of us are here at all? If you read up a bit on the origins of the universe[1], you’ll find yourself absolutely flabbergasted that the atoms that make up you happened to come together in just the right way to make you and not something else, or not much of anything. The fact that you can get outside your own head far enough to realize the odds against you being here at all should make you absolutely gobsmackingly super-flabbergasted. It’s enough to make people believe there’s a supreme being that wants you around. Regardless of what you believe, gratitude is an appropriate response to these kind of realizations.

No matter what you do, everybody knows there are more important things than work. Family, health, and safety, for instance. I have all three, and I know how lucky I am to have them. I also know how easily they can be taken away. If you have any of them, you should be thankful. If you have them all, like I do, you should be very, very thankful.[2]

Seasonal stuff

This time of year, I’m thankful for:

  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Best part: Snoopy gets his UFC on against a folding chair.
  • Football, particularly the fact that I grew up watching football in Wisconsin and not Minnesota. This doesn’t have all that much to do with particular games won and lost, but with the fact that it seems that Wisconsin fans find a way to have fun no matter what the team’s record is. It’s entertainment, folks. You can be really, really into it, but if you’re not on the team or very closely related to someone who is, a bad game should not ruin your week.
  • Online shopping. I used to think I hated shopping. It turns out I just hate crowds of crazed shoppers. My vision of Hell is being forever trapped in Walmart on Black Friday. But I love shopping from my couch.

Lawyer stuff

I’m thankful for my law job and will always be indebted to the person who helped me get it.[3] I’m also grateful to my co-workers, none of whom are psychopaths.[4]

I’m also grateful to be a lawyer. If I had no job, or worked at Starbucks, I’d no doubt feel differently. But I love how my education and experience give me a perspective and understanding of how my country works[5] that I would otherwise lack. I must admit, I do get some satisfaction out of answering when people ask me what I do. I feel like I have a lawyer’s brain and that by going to law school I have given myself a chance to read and write for a living.[6]

I’m also grateful to Sam for letting me blog every week and have smart people[7] read and sometimes respond to what I write.

Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t go back for thirds.[8]

Notes

[1]This is a great book by and for non-scientists.
[2]Very, very, very.
[3] She knows who she is.
[4]Well, maybe one or two. A little bit, anyway. They don’t know who they are.
[5] And doesn’t work.
[6]If you don’t love to read and write, you shouldn’t be a lawyer.
[7]And a very small handful of not-so-smart people. You don’t know who you are.
[8] Trust me. I’m a lawyer.

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  • http://www.royginsburg.com Roy Ginsburg

    Very nice reminder, Andy. I particularly enjoyed your remarks about Wisconsin football. I attended law school in Madison many moons ago and my kids go there now. Wisconsin fans seem to have a great perspective.