am I just not cut out for private practice?

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Anonymous User
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am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:25 am

After 1L in law school, I worked in a law firm- and I quickly realized that I'm no longer arguing both ways (which actually felt like an intelligent and meaningful exercise); but I'm doing this strange intellectually dishonest thing where I'm "emphasizing favorable facts" and "deemphasizing unfavorable facts."

Does anyone else share my concern about this aspect of law practice? I mean, I felt queezy just writing a motion to exclude this expert report last summer. My gut told me that the report should have been admitted against my own client (based on just the bare facts), but obviously, as a worker in a law firm representing this client, I was not able to go with what I thought should be the right outcome. Instead, I was basically put in a corner where I had to write this brief that I didn't believe in on an intellectual level (isn't that like, illegal?)

Is this concerning to anyone else, or are you guys just looking forward to $160,000? Keep me anon. or delete because I obviously dont want hiring partners to read my views on private practice of law.

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chup
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby chup » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:35 am

The system only works if both sides have zealous advocates working on their behalf (within the rules, of course). Granted there are inequities due to money, but that's the basic principle. Read your Aristotle.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:37 am

so ur saying this "basic principle" necessarily requires an unethical way of thinking/working?

I mean, how the hell is "persuasive writing" not "bullshit writing"? When I learned "persuasive writing" in law school, I thought that was the most dishonest thing any school had ever taught me.

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chup
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby chup » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:so ur saying this "basic principle" necessarily requires an unethical way of thinking/working?

I mean, how the hell is "persuasive writing" not "bullshit writing"? When I learned "persuasive writing" in law school, I thought that was the most dishonest thing any school had ever taught me.

Well by calling it "an unethical way of thinking/working," you're sort of starting with your conclusion. I don't think it's unethical to emphasize your client's side of the story (again, within reason/ethical bounds). If you can do on-the-one-hand-on-the-other type thinking and not feel guilty about it, I don't see why you should feel guilty about it when you're only doing one half of it and someone else is doing the other. Again, that's how the system works.

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chup
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby chup » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:52 am

Then again, I could just be naïve and full of shit. So there's that.

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PDaddy
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby PDaddy » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:After 1L in law school, I worked in a law firm- and I quickly realized that I'm no longer arguing both ways (which actually felt like an intelligent and meaningful exercise); but I'm doing this strange intellectually dishonest thing where I'm "emphasizing favorable facts" and "deemphasizing unfavorable facts."

Does anyone else share my concern about this aspect of law practice? I mean, I felt queezy just writing a motion to exclude this expert report last summer. My gut told me that the report should have been admitted against my own client (based on just the bare facts), but obviously, as a worker in a law firm representing this client, I was not able to go with what I thought should be the right outcome. Instead, I was basically put in a corner where I had to write this brief that I didn't believe in on an intellectual level (isn't that like, illegal?)

Is this concerning to anyone else, or are you guys just looking forward to $160,000? Keep me anon. or delete because I obviously dont want hiring partners to read my views on private practice of law.


Welcome to law practice. They say that the first rule of being a lawyer is, "what you 'think' is irrelevant". You have had to advocate for positions you don't believe in. Thus, in acknowledging that you did so, you were seeing both sides when you did it. If you have a client, you have an obligation to your client's interests. However, ethics dictate that, when your client has wronged someone, you defend them as vigorously as possible, but do not change the facts...do it in an ethical manner. You let the chips fall where they may. I am assisting on working on a case right now where opposing counsel lies through his teeth at every stop. He crosses the line, but what can you do? I deferred on going to law school to work this case, and I believe that our client will win.

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PDaddy
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby PDaddy » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:23 am

chup wrote:The system only works if both sides have zealous advocates working on their behalf (within the rules, of course). Granted there are inequities due to money, but that's the basic principle. Read your Aristotle.



That's the problem. Too many litigants (the ones who tend to most need representation) are pro se or receive shoddy representation. The inequalities are savage.

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Kohinoor
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:28 am

PDaddy wrote:
chup wrote:The system only works if both sides have zealous advocates working on their behalf (within the rules, of course). Granted there are inequities due to money, but that's the basic principle. Read your Aristotle.



That's the problem. Too many litigants (the ones who tend to most need representation) are pro se or receive shoddy representation. The inequalities are savage.

But that's not a problem as a corporate lawyer.

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Kohinoor
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:After 1L in law school, I worked in a law firm- and I quickly realized that I'm no longer arguing both ways (which actually felt like an intelligent and meaningful exercise); but I'm doing this strange intellectually dishonest thing where I'm "emphasizing favorable facts" and "deemphasizing unfavorable facts."

Does anyone else share my concern about this aspect of law practice? I mean, I felt queezy just writing a motion to exclude this expert report last summer. My gut told me that the report should have been admitted against my own client (based on just the bare facts), but obviously, as a worker in a law firm representing this client, I was not able to go with what I thought should be the right outcome. Instead, I was basically put in a corner where I had to write this brief that I didn't believe in on an intellectual level (isn't that like, illegal?)

Is this concerning to anyone else, or are you guys just looking forward to $160,000? Keep me anon. or delete because I obviously dont want hiring partners to read my views on private practice of law.
The other side has lawyers as competent as you making the appropriate arguments. The judge has years of experience with this manner of thing. If it should be in, it will probably get in. Your responsibility to your client demands that you do your best to assist him. If that makes you feel queasy, you should not be a lawyer in any field.

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vamedic03
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:After 1L in law school, I worked in a law firm- and I quickly realized that I'm no longer arguing both ways (which actually felt like an intelligent and meaningful exercise); but I'm doing this strange intellectually dishonest thing where I'm "emphasizing favorable facts" and "deemphasizing unfavorable facts."

Does anyone else share my concern about this aspect of law practice? I mean, I felt queezy just writing a motion to exclude this expert report last summer. My gut told me that the report should have been admitted against my own client (based on just the bare facts), but obviously, as a worker in a law firm representing this client, I was not able to go with what I thought should be the right outcome. Instead, I was basically put in a corner where I had to write this brief that I didn't believe in on an intellectual level (isn't that like, illegal?)

Is this concerning to anyone else, or are you guys just looking forward to $160,000? Keep me anon. or delete because I obviously dont want hiring partners to read my views on private practice of law.


You're going to be a lawyer, not a judge. Its not your job to decide what the best legal argument is, rather, you're supposed to figure out what is the best argument for your client's position.

If you're going to be in litigation, your job is to be an advocate. Advocacy is about advancing your client's position - this may conflict with what your personal opinion may be, but, unless it is unlawful or unethical, its your job to advance it.

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SamuelLChang
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby SamuelLChang » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:15 am

neutral partisanship. makes your headache go away.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:17 am

Kohinoor wrote:The other side has lawyers as competent as you making the appropriate arguments. The judge has years of experience with this manner of thing. If it should be in, it will probably get in. Your responsibility to your client demands that you do your best to assist him. If that makes you feel queasy, you should not be a lawyer in any field.


Good point, sounds like two sides need to engage in some fundamentally dishonest "advocacy" - but when two bullshit briefs unite, all points are made, and then the judge decides.

I'm pretty sure I'll get some kind of nervous disorder if I keep doing this for a career, so maybe I'll try and go into politics or something, or work for a Congressman as a staff attorney, and pray one day that I can become a judge of some sort.

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vamedic03
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:The other side has lawyers as competent as you making the appropriate arguments. The judge has years of experience with this manner of thing. If it should be in, it will probably get in. Your responsibility to your client demands that you do your best to assist him. If that makes you feel queasy, you should not be a lawyer in any field.


Good point, sounds like two sides need to engage in some fundamentally dishonest "advocacy" - but when two bullshit briefs unite, all points are made, and then the judge decides.

I'm pretty sure I'll get some kind of nervous disorder if I keep doing this for a career, so maybe I'll try and go into politics or something, or work for a Congressman as a staff attorney, and pray one day that I can become a judge of some sort.


What did you think being a lawyer involves? There's not some fundamental truth out there that you're supposed to uncover and bring to the judge. There's two sides of every story and your job as an advocate is to put forward your client's story. We have an adversarial legal system - its one of the fundamental aspects of Anglo-American Common Law. Its the way our system is designed to work.

On another note, you have got to be extremely naive if you think that you won't be involved in advocacy in politics.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby hmlee » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:25 am

vamedic03 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:The other side has lawyers as competent as you making the appropriate arguments. The judge has years of experience with this manner of thing. If it should be in, it will probably get in. Your responsibility to your client demands that you do your best to assist him. If that makes you feel queasy, you should not be a lawyer in any field.


Good point, sounds like two sides need to engage in some fundamentally dishonest "advocacy" - but when two bullshit briefs unite, all points are made, and then the judge decides.

I'm pretty sure I'll get some kind of nervous disorder if I keep doing this for a career, so maybe I'll try and go into politics or something, or work for a Congressman as a staff attorney, and pray one day that I can become a judge of some sort.


What did you think being a lawyer involves? There's not some fundamental truth out there that you're supposed to uncover and bring to the judge. There's two sides of every story and your job as an advocate is to put forward your client's story. We have an adversarial legal system - its one of the fundamental aspects of Anglo-American Common Law. Its the way our system is designed to work.

On another note, you have got to be extremely naive if you think that you won't be involved in advocacy in politics.


Or that you won't have to do things that you may disagree with in politics.

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FlanAl
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby FlanAl » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:25 am

Sorry are we talking about specific ABA ethical code being broken? (I don't even know if there is one) Or ethics in general. If its ethics in general then maybe OP should read some philosophy (or even just think about it for a little bit) and realize that right and wrong is in no way straightforward and that what you are doing is right from many different vantage points.

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MeTalkPrettyOneDay
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby MeTalkPrettyOneDay » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm pretty sure I'll get some kind of nervous disorder if I keep doing this for a career, so maybe I'll try and go into politics or something, or work for a Congressman as a staff attorney, and pray one day that I can become a judge of some sort
Advocates try and persuade judges and juries; politicians use hollow talking points to try and persuade the public. This is different how? Frankly, in my view the level of discourse in law is considerably higher than in politics, and law places a greater focus on honest and reasonable discourse. At least ethics constrains lawyers - politicians do not seem to feel so constrained.

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reasonable_man
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby reasonable_man » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:32 am

Funny.. This has not ever been a problem for me. Its an adversarial profession. Play by the rules and play to win. Its that simple. If that is really going to bother you; become a professor; where you can waste unending amounts of time trying to figure out who is "right."

Your job as an attorney is to a) trust no one; b) represent your clients; c) adhere to the rules of practice and the profession. If you can't do all three, at the same time, this is not the profession for you.

I also think this is why I find it so absurd that people go to law school with zero legal experience. I mean, honestly, what did you think being a lawyer entailed?

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby keg411 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:10 pm

reasonable_man wrote:Funny.. This has not ever been a problem for me. Its an adversarial profession. Play by the rules and play to win. Its that simple. If that is really going to bother you; become a professor; where you can waste unending amounts of time trying to figure out who is "right."

Your job as an attorney is to a) trust no one; b) represent your clients; c) adhere to the rules of practice and the profession. If you can't do all three, at the same time, this is not the profession for you.

I also think this is why I find it so absurd that people go to law school with zero legal experience. I mean, honestly, what did you think being a lawyer entailed?


As always, RM hits the nail on the head.

But there are many jobs that you have to do things that you might not necessarily be comfortable with... it's not just law. You get over it or you get out (in my case, I learned to get over it). And if you think what you're doing in law is uncomfortable, don't even think to go near politics.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:11 pm

reasonable_man wrote:I also think this is why I find it so absurd that people go to law school with zero legal experience. I mean, honestly, what did you think being a lawyer entailed?


chicken and egg problem. Staring at the chicken right now after 1 summer of legal experience.

With regards to politics, its even worse than lawyering, but i just wanna do that as a springboard to becoming a judge.

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chup
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby chup » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:With regards to politics, its even worse than lawyering, but i just wanna do that as a springboard to becoming a judge.

Image

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kalvano
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby kalvano » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:26 pm

LOL at someone who has gone through an entire year of law school and hasn't yet realized that what you think is irrelevant. You aren't arguing based on your personal beliefs or opinions. You represent your client and their beliefs and opinions.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby phoenixsoars » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:29 pm

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Last edited by phoenixsoars on Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:13 pm

op here, not really a troll, just expressing a concern about pvt sector lawyering, maybe I'm a dumbass for not figuring this out before I had a chance to write briefs in a law firm, but maybe I needed that first-hand experience by summering at a law firm, knowledge that you enlightened ones figured out beforehand.

I too knew that lawyering was a lotta bs going into law school, thats a cultural thing you imediately get unless u live under a rock, but I actually enjoyed seeing both sides and fleshing out both sides during law school, which gave me hope that imaybe thats what i'll do for a living. I really enjoyed reading opinions - which always looked at what P and D argued, and then deciding... but that's not what lawyers do obviously bec they only represent P or D.

Sure, judges are bound by shitty precedent sometimes, but they are free to criticize it - as they frequently do - unlike a pvt sector lawyer who really has to do the bidding of his book of biz. The only other analog that judges are enslaved to is political pressure, which sucks - sure.

I guess careerwise, I'm pretty clueless on how to even be a judge on the lowest court period - other than working in the government in some capacity (ADA, or some other branch of govt).. altho a lot of judges come from big law.. who knows dude, I'm just here trying to spit out how I feel about the law as a rising 2L, in the hopes that this resonates, but obviously I'm alone in my problems.

solidsnake
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby solidsnake » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:54 pm

Not all of private practice is adversarial. Not sure if you have done your 2L SA or if you are talking about your 1L summer, but if the latter, why not try taking some transactional assignments this summer and seeing if that is more of a personality fit, rather than preemptively writing off private practice altogether.

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reasonable_man
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Re: am I just not cut out for private practice?

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:op here, not really a troll, just expressing a concern about pvt sector lawyering, maybe I'm a dumbass for not figuring this out before I had a chance to write briefs in a law firm, but maybe I needed that first-hand experience by summering at a law firm, knowledge that you enlightened ones figured out beforehand.

I too knew that lawyering was a lotta bs going into law school, thats a cultural thing you imediately get unless u live under a rock, but I actually enjoyed seeing both sides and fleshing out both sides during law school, which gave me hope that imaybe thats what i'll do for a living. I really enjoyed reading opinions - which always looked at what P and D argued, and then deciding... but that's not what lawyers do obviously bec they only represent P or D.

Sure, judges are bound by shitty precedent sometimes, but they are free to criticize it - as they frequently do - unlike a pvt sector lawyer who really has to do the bidding of his book of biz. The only other analog that judges are enslaved to is political pressure, which sucks - sure.

I guess careerwise, I'm pretty clueless on how to even be a judge on the lowest court period - other than working in the government in some capacity (ADA, or some other branch of govt).. altho a lot of judges come from big law.. who knows dude, I'm just here trying to spit out how I feel about the law as a rising 2L, in the hopes that this resonates, but obviously I'm alone in my problems.




Not only are you free to see both sides of an argument; you're required to. An attorney that falls in love with his or her case and fails to see the validity in an opposing argument is doomed to failure. I've never written a brief or argued a motion without being able to write/argue the other side of the issue. But at the end of the day, I have one position to advance and my adversary has his or her position to advance. If the system works as it should, my opponent is a competent practitioner who will argue appropriately in favor of his client. If I do the same, the system works and fundamental fairness is achieved in that both sides are adequately represented.

The natural come-back to this is that there are pro-se litigants without proper representation and there are paying clients with lousy attorneys. Both of these points are true. In an imperfect world, justice will not always be done. However, there are natural safe-guards in place to minimize this negative effect.

First and foremost, attorneys must always be fearful of the wrath of disciplinary committees and district attorney’s offices. Nothing makes an official public servant happier than bringing down a corrupt or unethical attorney. This is an important function of these offices and it helps to preserve the integrity of the bar.

Second, most attorneys feel a sense of duty to the system. I believe that. The day I stood and took the oath as an officer of the Court and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the U.S. and the State of New York was one of my proudest days. Well eclipsing any graduation or other personal lifetime event. For me (and for MANY other attorneys), nothing is worth violating those obligations.

Third, all attorneys live and die by their reputations. Real attorneys play fair. They grant adjournments to opponents, they disclose unfavorable facts and they play by the rules. These attorneys are rewarded with the trust and confidence of the private bar and the bench. Every practicing attorney knows who the virtuous firms are and which firms are staffed by rats. Your reputation means everything in this profession and one act of dishonesty can undo years of solid virtuous work. Most attorneys are keenly aware of this.

Fourth, representation really is available for most just causes. Attorneys are generally good at (at least litigators – transactional attorneys never seem to be able to spot a problem), sniffing out a lawsuit. If you have a legitimate claim, for which relief can and should be granted, most times, you can find a competent attorney to take the case. And if you can’t most times, any attorney that you go see will, at least, assist you in finding an attorney that can. Because of the nature of my practice, I am seldom able to take on a small personal injury matter, etc. However, if someone comes to me and is hurt, you’d best believe I’ll find them the right attorney to take their case. Many times you hear of stories of people that can’t find an attorney to represent them… Listen to the merits of the proposed case and often times, you’ll immediately know why they can’t find a lawyer interested in the case.

Fifth, the free market and the internet. The free market does an excellent job of making sure that crappy attorneys do not thrive. There are more attorney rating services (Law.com, Avo, findlaw, Martindale Hubble), than we know what to do with. Not to mention google. Someone that hires an attorney is free to search out a good attorney and to retain someone that has a good reputation and a proven track record. If a client fails to their homework and hires a poor attorney, many times, there are signs of this before things get too serious and that attorney can be fired (and the retainer – that has not already gone to legal services already rendered – must be released back to the client). Crappy attorneys get reputations as being crappy attorneys and seldom get references from other attorneys and often find digital trails demonstrating their incompetence. Moreover, op, assuming you were at a reputable firm this summer, doing some level of decent work, chances are, another reputable firm is on the other side defending the case. Don’t be too egotistical to realize that there are people just as smart as you on the other side of this thing arguing for their client.

The profession is what it is. It’s far from perfect, but it works better than most people realize.




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