Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Okay, time to address the elephant in the room:  I am a lawyer.  Yes, yes, I probably should have prepared you better for that information if you weren't able to ascertain that little nugget from every single blog that I have thus far written.

When I lost my damn mind and thought I wanted to go to law school, I had the delusion that I knew what I was getting myself into.  I'd worked in a law office in some form or fashion since I was in high school, so I smugly assumed that I was familiar with all of the ups, downs, ins and outs of  being an attorney.  It wasn't until after I became an attorney that I discovered a truth that no one could have prepared me for:  Never tell someone that you're a lawyer.

"Well duh," I'm sure you are saying to yourself, "No one likes lawyers.  There are a billion jokes about attorneys crawling around at the bottom of the ocean and all that."

True, those of us in the legal profession are used the trite hatred of the lawyer/ambulance chaser/shark so that it is little more than water off a duck's back in this day and age.  That's not what I'm talking about.  In my ten years of practice, I have discovered that--in social settings--when folks find out that you are an attorney, they react either one of two ways:  (1) You become an instant party favor;  or (2) They become scared shitless of you.

It pushes the bounds of my civility to be introduced to someone as an attorney only to see a fevered gleam in their eye.  I can promise you that they are going to ask me every legal question that has crossed their mind throughout their entire life.  They really think that they are getting one over on me and having a free session of legal advice. 

Let me assure you that I have no desire to attend a wedding reception only to be stuck in the corner with the bride's cousin Bill, discussing his landlord tenant issues.  I did not go to a Fourth of July celebration to hear all about how Betsy's ex is cheating her on alimony.  I would much rather watch my child dance in her recital than sit in the audience trying to ascertain whether or not Florence's sister has bought a lemon.

When little law students graduate law school, pass the bar exam and swim out into the world to be lawyers, there are two big issues fighting for time in our afraid heads:  Being clueless as to how to pay back student loans roughly the amount of the national deficit of a mid-sized African nation and the boogeyman named Malpractice.  Instead of being the greedy money seekers that society assumes, most of us are trying to pay our debts, keep the doors open in spite of the enormous overhead it takes to run a law office and giving in to the occasional need to buy groceries.  Additionally, if one learns nothing else from their three years in law school, they know not to give out random legal advice because it could very well come back to bite you in the tooshie.

I used to worry over it when I was wet behind the ears.  These days, I say, "Gosh, you should probably see an attorney for that" with the unspoken sentiment being that the Legal Aid sign fell off my back a long time ago and those student loan payments have not gone away.

What I am trying to say, boys and belles, is that there is a time and a place for everything.  I certainly wouldn't walk up to a dermatologist at church and ask him to take a look at the mole on my thigh because it would be inappropriate.  Manners, dammit!  Manners!  We're Southerners for God's sake!

Now for the scared shitless part of the program:  Yes, I am an attorney and, yes, attorneys do occasionally sue people.  However, I don't wear my attorney hat all of the time.  I'm a mom, a wife a daughter, a patient...you get the idea.  So when I ask a question such as "Do you know where I can find my kid?" I am not implying that she is being poorly supervised while playing on a pile of asbestos and making a mural with lead paint.  Please don't go all wide-eyed and stutter and stammer--I just want to locate my child and go home.  No litigation necessary.

A few years ago, I was waiting in an exam room at the doctor's office.  The doc was late and the nurse left my chart right there on the counter, so I felt compelled to while away the time by perusing my medical details.  I saw the section written in red ink, highlighted in yellow and starred alerting the reader to my litany of drug allergies.  Good practice.  I next saw the portion written with the exact same urgency:  "PATIENT IS AN ATTORNEY."  What, so you were planning on examining my ear with a knife, but since I'm a lawyer you'll use the scope? Sweet baby Jesus.

Trust me when I tell you that you will know when I sue you, but it will be done professionally with "pleases," "no sirs" and "yes ma'ams" because I am a Southern lady and I am well bred.


  1. That is so true. Now get back to work,
    those bills aren't going to pay themselves!

  2. Best perk about where I work, I can only have one client, the government. So, my response is always, "Sorry, per my employer I can't give out legal advice to anyone but the City. You should talk to someone else." Sometimes working for the man kicks butt.

  3. Did you go to Lake Forest? I went, moved away after 9th grade, but am FB friends with a few LF people and somehow managed to link to your blog while clicking around.

    Anyway, I can sympathize on the doctor visit. I once found myself telling the nurse monitoring my vitals during surgery that I represented the regulatory body that could yank their license. The surgeon had a good sense of humor, the nurse just seemed terrified. I wonder if she ever asked another patient what they did for a living, and if she stopped asking questions when they were deliberately vague.

  4. Another good one. Many, many years ago, my bridge club asked me to cook a Hostess Ham to take to the home of one of our members who had just lost her small child. Each member was assigned different dishes. Well, I made Miss Prissy mad when I stamped my foot and told her absolutely not. I don't eat canned hams so I am not going to cook one. She then told she would do it bacause the Piggly Wiggly had them on sale!! Nancy