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How do you pursue justice?

My name is David Prater and I’m an attorney with the Maryland Disability Law Center, a nonprofit legal services provider that works to advance the civil rights of persons with disabilities.

I really enjoy working as an attorney. It’s not a power trip – I just really like my job. Of course, a lot of my affection for being an attorney is owed to my colleagues, workplace, clients and cases. In those regards, I am very fortunate to have gotten a great job right out of law school.

You may be asking yourself at this point: “So, if you like your job so much, what are you doing blogging? Why aren’t you in the office working on those cases you like so much?”

My answer is this: Because at the end of the day, being a lawyer is just a job. And, for me, it is a good professional job.

But being a lawyer is not who I am. The practice of law has its personal and professional limitations. Unfortunately, when practicing law, I miss out on three of my favorite personal pastimes: being outside, cooking and writing.

Professionally, in working for underrepresented clients and groups, you don’t always see the best outcomes and the odds are often stacked against your client. I found out pretty quickly that there are a lot of problems my clients have that my practice can’t readily address. A lot of these problems are symptomatic of our society and go unresolved because of our collective failure to address them. Nonetheless, I find myself trying to assist with those problems as creatively as I can, but it doesn’t always work out. Then, I try not to take those problems with me back home.

One of my hopes in blogging at Generation J.D. is to have that discussion about those limits of practicing law.

Again, being an attorney is great for a lot of reasons. I think being a public interest attorney is particularly great, and I wish there were more opportunities for young lawyers in that field. But the practice of law doesn’t solve everything for our clients and it doesn’t always feed the soul.

There are other opportunities for pursuing personal satisfaction and justice other than being a lawyer. I’m not always the best at making sure I pay attention to getting personal satisfaction from the day, but I make the effort in simple ways. For example, eating lunch outdoors with colleagues, or with a book, can be a great break. Or, setting aside the last 10-to-15 minutes of work to do a written reflection of your experiences can be a great outlet for both personal feelings and professional impressions.

Where do you get your personal satisfaction? How do you pursue justice?