Thursday, April 22, 2010

Looking for someone to coddle?

I guess Rick Casey of the Houston Chronicle must consider me to be one of the "coddled" lawyers in Texas. Coddled? That's not a word I generally associate with myself or my colleagues. I will admit, though, that I think I have one of the best possible jobs -- I enjoy what I do and it doesn't feel like "work."

Main Entry: cod·dle 
Pronunciation: \ˈkä-dəl\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): cod·dledcod·dling ˈkäd-liŋ, ˈkä-dəl-iŋ\
Etymology: perhaps from caudle
Date: 1598
1 : to cook (as eggs) in liquid slowly and gently just below the boiling point2 : to treat with extreme or excessive care or kindness : pampercoddling criminals

Of course I don't have a steady income - and in slow months it can be a challenge to pay the mortgage, the utilities, the car note, health insurance premiums, student loans and tuition as well as office expenses.

By no means do I run a charity out of my office - I do have bills to pay after all.

Mr. Casey's statement that the most important question for an attorney to ask a potential client is how much money they have is, shall we say, stereotyping those of us who fight to defend the Constitution on a daily basis. If all we cared about was money, we'd be lining up outside the doors of Big Law seeking jobs. Our fulfillment comes a little bit differently.

While you can put a price on an injury settlement or a contract dispute, you can't put a price on liberty.


Thomas Hobbes said...

I can't help pointing out that the criminal justice system puts a price on liberty every day.

It's called "bail."

Anonymous said...

Representing the citizen accused is difficult and draining. I love what I do. I fight injustice every day. I try to balance my desire for quality representation with the realities of financial necessities. It does not always work. I take it on the chin more often than I would like. A client who cannot pay me, let alone pay for expenses incurred is still a client. A defense that is often underfunded but not one I am willing to let be compromised simply because of a lack of funds is one I never turn away. A passion to try to obtain the best possible resolution for my client, no matter the finances is worthy of anyone. So, too, is a clear eyed understanding of reality. One cannot drink the kool-aid. A client who is seldom satisfied because I am not a miracle worker, and cannot obtain the result he/she wants is just human and I must understand that objectivity is not his/her strength. My own disappointment in myself for not being the best, or better or able to obtain the result I think is appropriate, is nothing more than a brief foray into narcissism.
Sounds like hell, but it is actually rewarding and satisfying. Where else can you fight the good fight? Where else can you determine your own destiny while trying to help others? You and all the others I look to for inspiration, other bloggers, local lawyers and compassionate citizens make it easier for me to keep slamming my head against what appears to be a brick wall and keep coming back for more. I suspect you are the same. It is easy to judge, to quarterback when you already know the outcome. The real test is whether you continue when there might be easier ways to make a living. We are blessed with a great education that allows us to make a living doing what we love. It might not be an affluent living; the idea that the solo criminal defense practitioner has the ability to make a lot of money without a lot of work and luck, is ridiculous myth, perpetrated by those who have no real knowledge about the realities of our world.
My hope is that as a group, we continue to welcome to our ranks those young lawyers who want to join in our journey- That we show them that this is really a wonderful way to make a living-and that while they may never become financial giants, they will, most definitely look back and feel gratified that they chose the path that lead to real fulfillment-or not.

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Hobbes. I would say "touche" after picking myself up from the floor.

BTW, how's Calvin?

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank you for your (very) thoughtful comments, Pam.