I don’t “practice” law. I don’t work in a firm or prepare briefs, nor do I have any desire to ever set foot in a courtroom. In fact, I often tell people it was never my intention to become a lawyer when I went to law school. But I am a lawyer; I’m an advocate for my clients, albeit in a different setting. As a lobbyist, my job is to facilitate or prevent changes to the law that will benefit or hurt my clients.
I was a lobbyist before law school and went to law school basically to become a better, and presumably higher paid, lobbyist. Law school for me was one of those “I’ve always wanted to do this” things. When I found a career I enjoyed, I knew going to law school would make me a better professional and a better advocate.
And it did. I can say that it makes a difference. Legislators in Annapolis or their staffs (especially those who are JDs) find it a little easier to discuss a complex change they are trying to make to the Maryland Code if they know they are speaking to a lawyer.
Likewise, the confidence I gained through law school allows me to go toe-to-toe with other lawyer-lobbyists. I speak the language, you could say, and even though I don’t practice law in any traditional sense, being fluent (OK, let’s not kid myself – conversational) the language of the law is a very valuable thing.
I had a professor who once pointed out that “lawyers are everywhere. When you look at major corporations, or large organizations, or government – if the person at the top isn’t a lawyer, then there is very likely a lawyer sitting next to them.” This is because we speak the language. We are trained to think through complex problems and find innovative solutions for people who are not ourselves.
As a result, anyone who finds themselves in a jam will invariably call on a lawyer to get them out of it. And we will come running with our toolbox full of ideas and answers or at least the ability to find answers where there seem to be none — because that is what we are trained to do.
It is a powerful tool, this JD, and there are an incredible number of things we can do with it. Not everyone’s troubles will result in a trip to court or with a lawsuit filed against them. But everyone with a problem to solve will be better served with a lawyer by their side.
I’ll be writing a couple of times each month to give a different perspective of the “practice” of law. I’ll also be asking and answering questions and sharing whatever wisdom I may have gained thus far as a young lawyer. As I have generally sought to practice law without practicing law, and rather enjoy doing so, I hope to explore the facets of that identity as well through future posts.