It is an axiomatic truth that law school and the practice of law teach an analytical style that can be frustrating, and downright annoying, to non-lawyers. Accordingly, my mentors have consistently preached to me the importance of not acting “lawyer-ly” when casually dealing with family and friends. This can be particularly hard for a young lawyer as they begin their adventures in practice.
Indeed, I have found it difficult to turn off my lawyer persona when dealing with my family and friends. I particularly feel for my wife. Here is an example of why:
My wife is a big fan of the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.” I am nothing but a casual observer.
In case you live under a rock somewhere, “Grey’s Anatomy” primarily takes place in a hospital in Seattle, Washington. So, my wife and I will be watching the show and McSteamy will make some absolutely ridiculous decision with respect to patient management. I’ll try my hardest, but eventually the medical malpractice lawyer in me comes out. It usually culminates with a giggle or a sneering comment. Then, an exchange like this typically happens:
Me: [Inset giggle or sneering comment]
Wife [With scouring look]: What!?
Me: He totally just breached the standard of care.
Wife: Keith, this is a TV show. Stop it.
Me: Seriously though. What he just did would be actionable. Big-time damages too. I wonder if Seattle Grace is self-insured.
Wife [Pauses live TV]: First of all, and as I just said, this is a TV show. Second of all, stop pretending to be a doctor. You are a lawyer. Being a malpractice lawyer does not qualify you to render opinions about the medical care rendered in a TV show.
These exchanges happen all too frequently. Thank goodness I have my wife to keep me in my place. She tolerates it but I can definitely see how annoying it can be.
I think I’ll make this one of my New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, law school does not furnish you with an “on/off” switch to make this easy. We’ll see how it goes…