Saturday, December 16, 2006


I think I've grown more as an attorney in the past week than I have in the past 3 months.
Whether the scheduling crunch is might fault or the court's, I cannot say.  But I had dozens of hearings and trials scheduled, and there is no mercy if the DA and the court are prepared to start.  For 72 straight hours, I spent every moment either in a hearing or starting a trial.  While I did one hearing after another, all I could think about was the trial.  For almost two weeks I was working 12 hour days and had to come in over the weekend.  I was only home to sleep.  That's the life of a public defender, I suppose but whew.  I was so exhausted by the time I was informed that there were no juries available this week that all I could feel was sweet relief, and then spent the rest of the week just trying to remain upright and muttering monosyllabic responses to people's questions.  For the past two days I've been counting down the minutes until I could go to bed and not wake up until Monday morning.
Now it's Saturday morning, and my body just can't let me sleep past 7:30 a.m.  Curses!
I'm going on vacation next Wednesday and not returning until after the New Year.  I'd be much more excited about the time off if I didn't have 4 motions due the day I got back.  That means work is coming on vacation with me.  Boo.
A lot of the cases I have currently are being litigated, as opposed to being resolved otherwise.  I can't figure out exactly why - maybe it's just the luck of the draw as far as cases go, or maybe I'm just getting better at calling BULLSHIT with the DA's offers, or maybe just more of my clients are out and able to fight their cases, as opposed to fighting from the inside.  But it is overwhelming to have a caseload so high if all of them require investigation and motions and hearings subpoenas and setting a trial date which means finding witnesses and maybe even prepping a few of them.  I'm still new at the trial stuff - it requires a different skill set than negotiating, and every time I prep a hearing or trial I realize how much I still don't know. 
This whole post is just a long way of saying, I'm really tired and suffering from my recurring case of, "If this type of work stresses me out this much does this mean that I was never meant for this job to begin with?  Am I just pretending to be a lawyer, when in reality I'm nothing but a hack?"
Maybe I was never meant to be a litigator.  Or maybe, litigators aren't born, they're made, and that being 'made' just comes with a lot of growing pains and an overwhelming caseload.


Anonymous said...

CDOG: Substitute "over two years" for "almost two weeks" in "[f]or almost two weeks I was working 12 hour days and had to come in over the weekend" and you will have entered my world child, though a world that pays much, much more.

And since when did the courthouse stay open past 4:29 sharp? "For 72 straight hours, I spent every moment either in a hearing or starting a trial."

WomanoftheLaw said...

Yeah yeah yeah. I know. I technically work (or get paid to work) 7 hour days. I don't envy your schedule. I would hate working all the time.

I think the difference is in the stress level. When you feel solely responsible for someone's liberty or incarceration, I would imagine it's an entirely different stress from wondering whether one can bill enough hours so that crotchedly old partners like you and so a billion dollar gas company doesn't lose a couple mill.

Anonymous said...

CDOG: As to stress level, corporate clients also can create stress. For instance, if your client has $500M on the line, and it loses, that could translate into a loss of 2,000 jobs/employees (assuming the average employee makes $50,000 per year and figuring that he or she would be paid for the next 5 years). At 2.5 children per employee, that's 5,000 children whose parents you have kept employed. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that. But, still, I like to think of myself as working for the children, not the Man.