After practicing for eight years, I have come to realize in a very profound manner than the practice of law is so much more than just the procedure and substantive law I learned in law school. At its core, it is an interwoven system made up of human beings.
Yes, you heard it right. For the millions of statutes and laws that make up our complex legal system, it is people, it is society, that drives it all.
Not surprisingly, since it is made up of actual people, the legal system and the practice of law, is chock full, of you guessed it, emotions. These emotions run the gamut from conflict, anxiety, anger, desperation, grief, sorrow, hate, fear, and love.
This is by no way a finite list. Anything a human experiences on any given day, can be found knit into our system. All one needs to do is go walk the halls of criminal court, domestic violence court, bankruptcy court, or family law to see this play out on a daily basis.
Why do I point out the obvious? Well, it becomes very easy to forget this. When we move from thing to thing, day to day, we become entrenched in the details, the minutiae, the immediate. We get lost in the big picture.
As lawyers, and future lawyers, the system depends on us to carry out its purpose, the principles of fairness, advocacy, and justice. When we are on the fifth draft of a brief, shepherding cases, you know what, I admit, it is easy to forget. When someone on the other side, sends off a nasty email or letter, or attacks your case, it becomes easy to forget the bigger picture. The other side becomes “the other.” We forget that yes, believe it or not, they are just like us.
When we separate each other out so much, it does no service to the end game. It can be hard to remember that a storm always ends when you feel like you are in the midst of a tornado. When we can’t see past it, that very thing that consumes us. But when we mindfully step back, and think past whatever drama happens to be occurring to us or around us, we can refocus, take a minute, and breathe.
Next time you find yourself in the thick of it with no light in sight, breathe deep. Allow yourself to put it aside for a few moments, and put the ego away, and just listen to your self breathe. I guarantee that when you return to whatever dilemma you are attempting to solve, the problem at hand will feel less like an avalanche and hopefully more like a few snow drops.
Remember that at the end of the day, we are all human, trying to help our fellow humans out.