Saturday, June 13, 2015

Being a trial lawyer

Being a trial lawyer is an incredibly draining job. It's a job that is hard to explain to people who don't do this work, even to people who have high stress jobs where people depend on them. Trial is all-consuming. And the pressure & stress is unlike anything else.

As a public defender, people rely on me. In some of my cases, people's lives depend on me. Not in the sense that they will die, but in the sense that a guilty verdict will send them to prison & everything in their life will be irrevocably altered.

My last trial, the client was facing 91 months in prison if we lost. That is a long period of time. This trial that starts on Monday, the sentence is 144 months in prison if we lose. The outcome of trial will affect the course of the client's life in a very huge way.

And for most trials, it's a very solitary venture. As the attorney, I'm almost always on my own in the courtroom. I'm the only one I have to consult with & I am the only one I have to rely on. I have to make judgment calls, sometimes on the spur of the moment, & hope it's the right choice. Trial is a solo undertaking. Since it's all day, there is usually no time to go back to the office to debrief with others or discuss the day's events. You're all on your own.

Being in trial is almost a round-the-clock status. Even when court is out, whether for break, lunch, or the end of the day, as the lawyer you're still in trial mentally. There's still things that need to be changed, researched, looked into, modified, added, omitted, altered, etc. Trial never stops until the verdict is read. If I'm not asleep, I'm in trial.

Being a trial lawyer is hard to explain to someone else. It's not like Law & Order where the attorneys can just prance around saying whatever & it wraps up in an hour. It's mentally, physically, & emotionally draining. People who don't do this job can't understand what that is like.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely feel your pain! Stay strong. And keep up the awesome work you do.