Friday, February 11, 2011

Crisis of Faith

A crisis of faith?

Perhaps that is the wrong description. Call it more of a crisis of belief? I am sure that I could come up with something more clever and apropos this morning, but I am simply not in the mood. I simply do not feel creative.

I have decided I am done with the practice of law.

Unfortunately, the existence of my LW and the Horde kind of make the practical desertion from the, unpracticable.

But my heart is no longer in it. At all.

It is not just the practice of consumer bankruptcy, although I think that has a lot to do with it. I have tried for years to salve my discontent with the answer that I am helping people, doing good for people's lives, and so forth. But I cannot use that excuse any longer.

There are just too many people that come in and want to abuse and play the system.

There are too many people who come in, after having dug themselves into an insurmountable hole, and then blame you for their trials and troubles.

There are too many people unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions.

There are too many people willing to lie to you, their attorney, simply because they think that it will turn out better for them in the end.

And there are just too few people willing to give a simple "thank you."

Not to mention the lousy pay.

Need I go on?

A friend proposed that what I am feeling is nothing more than a simple mid-life crisis. I do not believe that to be the case. I do not wish to buy a sports car, or a boat, or have an extramarital affair. I do not wish to go back to school, or open my own business, or take up sky diving, or any of the myriad of usual things men do when undergoing a mid-life crisis.

I simply want to take my LW and the Horde, load up the Ford, stock up the trailer, and drive off into the mountains. You know, find a little meadow somewhere and just BE.

I simply want to be left alone.

I want to not worry through the night about THAT client: the one who comes forward mid-case to give you a case-destroying piece of information that they "forgot"; the one that blames you for all of the post-filing pay-day loans she took out; the one who somehow sees it as your responsibility that they have not paid their mortgage(s) in seven months but could afford the trip to Disneyland; the one for whom the office buys a Thanksgiving dinner who later tells the Court she has no idea who you are.

The other day, I had a client thank me for helping themn get back on their feet, relieving their stress, getting them in a frame of mind where they could work and be productive again, and basically crediting me for all the recent good in their lives. It made me feel really good.

The warm fuzzies lasted about an hour.

Until another client called to accuse me of falsifying numbers in his case, numbers calculated by a formula that Congress, the Justice Department, the Courts, and the Chapter 13 Trustees have all developed and forced upon me. I did that; It's MY fault that she had overtime for the past two years and, despite that fact, the overtime is not guaranteed and somehow should not be calculated into her anticipated gross income.

For every one appreciative client, for every client whose life you actually touch for the better, for every client that understands that you are helping them out of a hole of (typically) their own creation, for every "good" client I am inundated with at least 99 more that are lying, unfeeling, uncaring, abusive cretins.

Oddly, it is not the confrontation with opposing attorneys; there is very little of that in our tiny little section of the Bar. It is the confrontation with our own clients that has driven me to detest the very practice of the Law, driven me to taste bile at the thought of my office, and to cause near-physical pain at the idea of getting up in the morning and facing the day.

It is a practice that drains your emotions, that drains your Spirituality, that drains your spirit, and that drains your love for practically anything else in your life.

It is a practice that wads up your creativity and tosses it in the toilet, that causes your Muse to turn her back on you in disgust, that causes food to taste like sawdust, music to sound like noise, and simple, peaceful quiet to become deafening.

It is a practice that causes you to vent your frustrations--at other drivers on the road, at your family, at your friends, and at your employees. It is a practice that literally made me weep as I drove to the office this morning.

Believe me, if there was anything else I could do that would provide sufficient financial support for my LW and the Horde, I would be there in a heartbeat. I probably would only stop to fill one box with possessions; the rest of my office space can just go hang. But I have to be an adult about this: someone once said that you are not supposed to enjoy what you do everyday--that is why it is called "work." Well, I do not enjoy what I do everyday; I cannot fool myself any longer.

I am done.

But I am still here.


roof-detective said...

Love your blog!!! I hope you will visit mine at and become a follower. I look forward to seeing you there.

Footprints of Peace said...

I enjoyed your blog. Understood your fustration, but noted your pleasure in helping people. Perhaps the honest people don't know how to ask for help, perhaps honest people own up to their responsiblities and take the chance of loosing it all because they know they created the financial rollercoaster, perhaps honest people don't know how to search for good, honest, hard working attorneys such as your self. I have found in my life when I needed an attorney, I didn't know how to express myself in what I wanted to be able to attain an attorney.

My father was basicly kidnapped last Summer, and as his only child, I found out through attorneys I have no rights. My father was taken to Florida and died six days later. He was buried in a state he didn't want to be buried in. I was not given the last rights to look upon his face, and say good bye, and, now, I carry within my heart this empty place that can never be filled because the cruelties of mankind. Who can burry a persons love one and don't give them the rights of passage. So, really there are honest people out here who needs lawyers such as yourself, we just don't know how to go about finding you.

Toni said...

I have been a paralegal working law firms, specifically in litigation for the last 15 years. I know and feel your pain. I struggle every day to find any true joy or satisfaction in my work. Litigation has sucked the life out of me.

Someone once said to me, "if you do what you love, you'll love what you do." I wish this for you.

Tony Hammack said...

Greetings from Batesville AR! Please visit my blog also. I'd be honored if you'd "follow me" there.

anitralahiri said...

I hope you don't mind a total stranger reading your post and giving you advice, but I want to say that this is indeed a crisis of sorts. Please remember, life is short, too short to be spending it on a career that does not resonate with your heart and soul. Find your passion, find what you absolutely love to do, and follow that. Yes, it will mean less money, but your kids will benefit by seeing their parent do what they love as opposed to what merely brings in the money. If you want to live in the beautiful mountains with your family, you can have that ... Really. Life is to short to not have what you want in this life. So, I say take a big pay cut , find what you love, and go for it, no matter how hard the process. No job is worth the stress you're feeling.

My two cents :)

p.s Maybe my blog will give you food for thought?

haisam said...

Hello, I have read your blog.. I like it..
But what i feel is your career is not what u want for your life. You have search ur soul to find out what is best for you.
Am an engineer but Music is my passion. I sometimes finds it difficult to rhythm with my life to be in purely technological state at whole day & to find time for music in evening but this is what I want to do & I am doing.. So I want u to look arund ur life & seek ur destiny not wonder around..

ps: I hope u wont mind getting a comment from a total stranger.

Trashmaster46 said...

Perhaps it's time to channel your expertise into a more satisfying direction?

Jeremy said...

It's always good for beliefs to be tested. Hopefully you are able to find peace in life :)

Stay positive

Thelonius Bostik said...

the greatest test of faith that we will ever face will be presented to us in silence: what we see when we close our senses - what channels open between ourselves and the furthest reaches of the cosmos; therein will the answer be known.
i read your work with fervid delight.
please share your vision at my site:
Models From The Earth

Nancy Kimball said...

I just wanted to leave you with what gets me through.

Galatians 6:9

The LW and Horde are blessed to have you. Lesser men would say 'screw this' and start a garage band while the bills pile up. While it's true life is short, finding fulfillment in a career is ideal, etc. etc...

it's also honorable in the extreme that for the love of your family you'll stay tied to the oars on a ship you hate. God bless you my friend.

Joel Soelberg said...

Your post may be old news in your life but I appreciated your candid expression. You will not find another field that is void of ungrateful, dishonest and self serving. Take a break. I am LDS. Sometimes the breaks are the weekend and sacrament, sometimes a real vacation. My advice would be to communicate with your clients more. It is OK to tell them that you will do your best and you expect them to see that, but that they are still in financial, marital, or legal upheaval in their lives and to treat you as an ally and not the enemy. Tell them to expect it to only get worse before it gets better and that you expect and will only tolerate their best behavior and that the contract you have with them relies on their honesty, respect and helpful communication. If you give a couple stories of where you stopped working with someone because they failed to be honest, respectful or helpful they will know they can't trash on you and still expect your help. It helped in my business because my clients knew I was 100% in their corner until they started using the boxing gloves on me...

Marjorie said...

I enjoy your blog. I'm a nurse and also have much career related frustration! My solution was to cut down to a couple days a week and work a couple days a week in a bookstore, helps me keep my sanity. But since I made those career know that bankruptcy thing...are you taking new clients? Ha!