Vail Daily column: Always worth it in the end
I wear the conflicts like a cloak with a clasp that will not unlatch. The cloak is fabricated from the taunts of bullying lawyers, the fusillade of barbs that pass for litigation communication, the laments of obstinate clients, the sheer futility of working within a broken system. In moments of levity, the cloak flutters off my shoulders in the manner of a superhero’s cape. When times are low, the cloak is weighted as if by a torrential downpour. Whether or not I feel its presence, it is there, conspiring to trip me up when my defenses are down. And yet I press forward, entranced by the possibilities and the process of helping those who need it. It is the service component of my job that makes it all worth it in the end.
Follow Your Heart
Of my eight law school housemates, I am the last to remain engaged in the traditional practice of law. We only graduated nine years ago. The penultimate survivor of the legal grind just quit his job last week and I was floored: he was always the most keen on being a lawyer. Then he realized that the eternal disputes made him queasy and exhausted and exasperated and so, following the example of his brilliant wife, he left to find a job that makes him happy. Despite my surprise at his departure, I am exceedingly proud of him. Following your heart takes a lot of moxie.
My heart has led me to this valley, to two law partners that I cherish and respect, and to a law firm foremost engaged in serving the community through legal work and otherwise. That I remain a practicing attorney is not the result of Stockholm Syndrome or lack of options; it is a conscious, self-actuated choice. Having traveled the world and possessing a modest arsenal of skills, I have had opportunities in other occupations, but have always demurred. I never question that decision because my soul is, and always will be, with the legal profession. Notwithstanding the travails and the pitfalls of the work, I am intoxicated by the jolt that courses through me when I lend a hand. The reward is all the sweeter when coupled with an expression of gratitude, but that is unfortunately fairly rare. My assistance is more often taken for granted, but that does not bother me (too much). By virtue of my profession and friendly demeanor, there is a certain expectation that I will always help and I try not to disappoint. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, but it is my chosen lot.
Responsibility to Share
Through years of study and work, I have amassed a cadre of legal knowledge. Although the learning process was and is an arduous one to which I have been seriously dedicated, I do not take a proprietary interest in its results. Rather, I feel a responsibility to share this information. When a friend or acquaintance calls me and is in a jam, needing to tap into my legal knowledge, I open my brain and let what I know pour out. The technical details of the law are part of the equation, but the advice also leans heavily on experience in similar situations and on the practical aspects of the dilemma. Working cooperatively with someone to solve their problems is an experience of which I never tire.
Confidant and Counselor
Being a confidant and counselor is at once humbling and ego-stroking. While still surprising given my age, I am very proud that I am a person to which people of all stripes turn in times of trouble. It feels great, but reveling too much in that emotion is dangerous and can lead one to devolve into a pompous caricature of an attorney. That persona often comes about when the lawyer exploits his position; lording his (allegedly) superior knowledge over others just to boost his own self-esteem. It is possible that I may come across this way on occasion, but any such outcome is purely inadvertent and, if true, deeply embarrassing.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to ignore the tireless onslaught of ugliness inherent in the legal business and instead focus on the fleeting euphoria that comes from devoting so much energy to helping others. I am certainly not a paragon in this realm, but with each day I step closer to that nirvana. A path trod by many before me and hopefully many after, the journey of a virtuous lawyer in these troubled times is perilous but always worth the trek.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.