Apart from reading tons of John Grisham novels and constantly starting arguments with friends and family about whatever topic suited my fancy at the moment, I didn’t know much about the law when I first started studying it.
I graduated a month and a half ago, and honestly… I still don’t know that much about it.
Older lawyers who have treaded the well-worn path before me tell me this is normal, and that you actually learn law after practicing it. Well… after lawyering around for a while, I’m slowly starting to ‘get’ it. Sure, knowing the law is important. Being a good lawyer means knowing the law like the lyrics of your favorite song, or the really cool lines from your favorite movie.
BUT… you can’t expect to be a great lawyer just by knowing the law. In fact, I’m beginning to think that all in all, the law is flexible. Like statistics. You can make it say what you want it to say. Does this mean the law isn’t objective? No, it doesn’t. The law is objective and the best lawyers out there use this objectivity to prove, without question, that they are right when they are right.
But there is something that ISN’T objective. Real life.
In real life, very rarely is there a black and white. There are tons of shades of gray, and several different legal concepts–different sides of the law–can be used to defend (or destroy) a point of view. Bottom line is knowing the law won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to get creative with it.
The best lawyers are the creative ones. The ones who can look at the big picture, think three, four, five steps ahead in one direction and five steps ahead in the other. Thinking about what’s the best evidence to defend their argument and how to get it. Thinking is EVERYTHING…it’s what you need to draft a good contract, to litigate, to counsel your client.
There are other qualities you need to be a good lawyer, like not being afraid. When I started practicing I was internally nervous. I never let it show because you CAN’T let anyone know you’re nervous. Lawyering is a dog eat dog world, I’m very clear on that.
Slowly, though, the nerves started to subside. The more I understood, the more I thought, and the more things started coming together. I’m only a baby shark and I have lots to learn, but baby sharks grow quickly. And now that I get there’s a creative aspect to the law, I’m ready to have some fun with it. See how this goes. Who knows, maybe there’s a great white hidden deep inside of me somewhere, begging to come out and play.