Are Lawyers Made or Are They Born?

I don’t think anyone can seriously challenge the assertion that there are a whole lot of lawyers around. While compiling my list of potential clients for my research, writing, editing and marketing business, I initially limited my search to the six or seven towns immediately surrounding my own city, a picturesque fishing port outside of Boston of moderate size. From an area of no more than 20 square miles, I quickly filled my Access database with a whopping 850 unique entries. It takes an awful lot of real estate closings, family law matters, civil or criminal proceedings and estates to keep 850 lawyers busy enough to keep their shingle hanging. Are these lawyers made or are they born? Nature or nurture? What makes a person desire to study and then practice law? No doubt, some cut their teeth arguing why they should be permitted another hour of television on a school night with unwavering dedication to their cause, couldn’t wait to join their high school debate clubs, chose their pre-law major on the first day of freshman year and ran headlong into law school and practice, knowing all along that they were meant for the law. Still others may have been subconsciously drawn to linguistics and Latin, philosophy and English, civics, political science or other related subjects and realized, when the time finally came to decide, that law just seemed a most natural fit. Finally, there must have been a few who arrived at their third or fourth year of college, or at some stage in a non-legal career, and either believed that the pursuit of law was the lesser of all available evils or felt they desperately needed a change in direction.

I myself was a “jack of all trades” in advance of my decision to enter law school. There were so many subjects of interest to me that I found it difficult to decide. I pursued double majors and triple minors. I had more than one option for graduate school and chose law, and I am happy to say that it was a very good choice for me. I do believe, however, that law school was my training ground. I worked hard to acquire those “tools of the trade” that any good lawyer must possess. In other words, I believe that I was “made” into a lawyer by training and experience. So, for sure, for me, lawyers are indeed “made.”

But that does not end the inquiry. A conversation with my oldest son when he was only three years old remains etched on my mind. We allowed no toy guns in our home. I made no bones about my dislike for weapons in general and guns in particular. He accepted my position without question, until his first year of pre-school. The worldly influence wrought by his peers worked its magic; my son announced in no uncertain terms that he would be a cowboy for Halloween and that his costume would include a shiny six-shooter.

I held my ground: no guns. He thought about this and a few days later, he asked again. I repeated my injunction: no guns. Guns are bad. I thought that if I kept it simple, my rule would be easily grasped and accepted. He looked at me with complete seriousness and asked me: “Do policemen carry guns? Do army men carry guns?” He continued on: “Army men are good, right? And policemen protect us.” He then hammered home his final nail:  “If they carry guns, then guns can’t be bad.” You can probably imagine the rest. His silver six-shooter remains the only gun in our home. Needless to say, I believe that attorneys also can be “born.”

Whether made or born, we lawyers come to the law from diverse backgrounds. We craft our practice to best fit our temperaments. Hopefully, whether by nature or by nurture, we can all find fulfillment in this vastly important and encompassing calling. And, with a little luck, we can help nurture others in their quest to find the true benefits of a life in the law.


3 comments on “Are Lawyers Made or Are They Born?

  1. The problem is when people decide to enter the law world already thinking of becoming an outlaw. I mean: many think that becoming a lawyer is a fast track for making money, costs what it has to cost. Some go further, seeing the Law school as a way to get into high politics and get some juice for themselves. I’m a law student and I have hope in law and law students. But It’s always nice to keep an eye open. Nice post.

  2. I actually opted not to go on to get a higher degree in psychology / counseling because of my impression at the time (mistaken or not) that many go into that field to help themselves rather than to help others.
    I think you should keep that hope. There are plenty of lawyers out there, practicing or not, that are “doing right” by others.
    Best of luck!

  3. Pingback: luis fraga

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