Wednesday, January 11, 2006

on being a new attorney: should I really be allowed to do this?

Gosh I'm tired. Someone must have sent out a memo indicating my boredom, because it came in from all sides today. Suddenly I'm the most popular worker monkey. "Do you want to help me on this?" "Want to work on this trial with me?" "Can you cover this case for me?" "Can you cover this case for me?" "Can you cover this case for me?"

Resolution: Not to be seen in my own office anymore. Ever.

The supervisor makes the rounds and I don't know where he's coming from, but somehow I'm always in his direct line of vision or the first attorney he sees. I need to get better at ducking him. Today, he asked me to do something really cool, so naturally I assumed another attorney would be helping me with it. That was not the case. Also, it did not take just a few minutes. It lasted about 5 hours past the end of my workday. Thanks boss! Let me stop. It doesn't bother me that he asks, because let's be honest, if anyone should be doing more work, it should be me, the one doing not much of anything. I'm happy to do it.

However, is it really a good idea that no one else is here to let me know whether I'm fucking this up? No seriously. You're going to let me do this? I've never even had a trial, shouldn't this be going to someone who has done a trial before? Because I don't even know all the possible ways that I could fuck this up. Do you realize that a citizen's liberty is on the line here? Maybe our clients are onto something when they ask for a real lawyer.

The worst part of all of this is not the apprehension or anxiety or looking like a fool. I'm getting past that. I learn a lot more and get much more done if I embrace and announce my ignorance. I'm lucky that there are plenty of people - court officers, attorneys, judges, cops - who are willing to work with me when I smile sweetly and exclaim, "Why, I do declare, my pretty little head wouldn't know a thing about that!" Ok, I don't really say that, but the sweeter and more helpless I look, the better outcome I get. Ignorance really is bliss, for now anyway.

The worst part is how I feel afterwards. I'm always convinced that there's something I did wrong. I probably should have done something else. I probably fucked up something royally. What did I miss? What was I supposed to do? It's so hard to shake that feeling. In most cases, there is probably something I could have done differently, but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong. And inevitably I could have done something wrong, but that doesn't make it fatal or irreversible. And if I did something wrong and fatal and irreversible, well then I shouldn't have been sent to do it in the first place.

It takes me a long time to shake off that feeling. Every day I go to court, every time I have a particular assignment, every time I'm doing something that is real lawyer work, I have at least a solid hour of dread afterwards. I'm always waiting for someone to tell me how much I suck or fucked up. It hasn't happened yet, and I know that I'm more competent than I feel, but I can't stop panicking after everything I do. It's a sucky way to get through a week. Thank the sweet Higher Power for cabernet and Oreos.

1 comment:

notguilty said...

how many times have I told you you will ALWAYS feel like you might have fucked something up. So, you need to get used to the feeling. After a while its like, eh, whatever.

And, us 'real lawyers' get put in that same position all too frequently.