I love my job. There are lots of reasons. It’s hard to list them all. I love trial, advocating, arguing, researching, investigating—especially investigating—thinking about crimes and cases and evidence and testimony and examinations, educating judges (and prosecutors), and I love saying “Mr. Woolley on behalf of the defendant.” I love upholding the law, the rule of law, and the Constitutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia and this republic. I love walking into a fight knowing that I’ve probably invested more time and research, and effort and passion into a case than my opponent. I love walking into that fight knowing I’m probably about to lose. I just love walking into a good fight.
I don’t think that’s why I love my job as much as I do though. I love all of those things, and they provide me with quite a bit of job satisfaction. I think the thing that makes me love my job as much as I do is that I have an opportunity everyday to help people with matters of serious importance in their lives, and I take my duty to help them seriously.
I’ve never had any serious issues with “self-esteem” or confidence. I always thought I was going to be a good lawyer, and until recently I was never scared of being a bad lawyer. I haven’t been out that long, I’m a real gunner, and I hung a shingle. At first it just seemed like a really ballsy move. Then I started getting a taste of what it’s like and I started to worry that I wasn’t going to be a good lawyer. I saw a lot of bad lawyering and there were, and have been, a lot of situations when I realized I didn’t know what to do because I’d forgotten to ask or I didn’t know I should ask someone who had been in that situation. But there is someone who has been in that situation; and you come to realize after a fairly short period of time that if someone who has been there before cares enough about you, or justice in general, to give you advice, that person is a good lawyer. Then you can see who the good lawyers are, and you come to realize over time that what makes you good lawyer is that you care about what you’re doing.
A good lawyer is someone who takes a fiduciary’s responsibilities seriously, someone who takes the duty to uphold the law seriously—even too seriously—someone who isn’t only willing but wants to shed blood, sweat, and tears over any and every case. Above all a good lawyer is someone who cares about the job and, moreover, cares about the client.
So I may not have the most experience and I may not know all the statutes by heart but over the past several weeks I’ve realized that I am a good lawyer and there’s no danger of me becoming a bad lawyer. It’s not because I got a high LSAT score, or went to the greatest law school, or got the best training, or know the most stuff. It’s just because I care.
There are a lot of reasons I won’t do some of the things that some of the bad lawyers do, but the most basic reason is that I feel that every day when I appear in court, or even answer an initial phone call, my actions have a real and lasting effect on the lives of the people I work with. I think that is what most people mean when they talk about job satisfaction. I think that deriving happiness from what you do means that you take what you do seriously and you appreciate the impact that your job has on the world and your little corner of it. (I’m reminded of an especially cheesy episode of “M*A*S*H”.)
I’m not writing this in hopes of receiving more clients. I don’t think blawging is a particularly acute way of bringing in more business. If I were to guess, I’d say that most criminal defense blawgs are read by other criminal defense attorneys and the friends and family of the attorney who blawged it. I’m not writing this because I want my friends and family to know how much I love my job (I totally love it by the way). I’m writing it hoping that some young attorney will read it and will realize what I’ve realized, or that some distracted and jaded attorney will read it and remember what it’s supposed to feel like.
All I’m really trying to say is that if you care about what you do, you’re not only bound to get better and better at it, you’re bound to really enjoy it. I’m really lucky to have a job I care so much about. I love my job.