People often ask me why I became a lawyer. There is no “aha” moment that made me decide to become a lawyer. My articling principal and mentor in the early part of my career used to tell me to “let the chips fall where they may” when it came to our cases but it is a phrase that applies equally to the question of why I became a lawyer.
What most people except those closest to me don’t know about me is that I was a very naïve person by nature in my younger years. An odd thing for a lawyer to admit to, I know, but let me explain. I don’t see that as a fault, but rather a strength: I’m an optimist. My first instinct is to believe in people and the things that they tell me. But what I came to realize at a young age was that unfortunately, the world does not work that way, and some people will try to take advantage of others. And so, in order to combat my nature, I taught myself to question most of what I saw, heard and read. When someone told me something of which I had no personal knowledge I would ask follow up questions and seek answers through independent research or my own “investigations”. This resulted in me becoming known as persistent and inquisitive (some would say argumentative), and being told by peers, teachers, and even people I’d just met, that I’d make a great lawyer. While it sounds anticlimactic to say that’s why I decided to become a lawyer the answer is simply that it just fit.
Having now practiced for 10 years, I think it is far less important to ask why I became a lawyer, and more relevant to ask why I continue to practice law and in particular, personal injury law. It is certainly not a given that once you graduate from law school you’ll always want to be a lawyer. I have many friends who have left the legal profession to pursue other careers over the years.
I have never practiced any type of law other than personal injury, but it is not the type of law I imagined getting into 13 years ago when I entered law school. It was simply the first job I was offered while searching for an articling position, again the chips just fell into place. I realized early on, however, that I was lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy this work.
In reference to our practice of law, what Mr. Fireman meant when he told me to “let the chips fall where they may” was that we should always remind our clients that their job when going through a lawsuit is to tell the truth, and as lawyers we cannot hide facts or lie. Our jobs are to then arrange the chips, or tell our client’s story, in a way that paints their case in the best possible light- to be their voice, their advocate, while maintaining our integrity as lawyers.
Looking back on the last ten years, I can say with confidence that litigation, and in particular personal injury litigation, allows me to continue to be an optimist: to believe in my clients and the things that they tell me and by extension have the drive to want to obtain for them the best possible outcome, while also continuing to question and investigate matters. There is a never-ending search for information, both legal and factual, required to formulate the best possible argument on my clients’ behalf. In this way, personal injury litigation fits my personality both in nature and nurture to a “T”, and that is why I continue to do what I do, ten years on.