Editor's Column

Editor's Column

By: Andy Jones

Serving as an attorney and counselor at law is a rewarding yet often harrowing calling. This is especially true for young lawyers. Many of us have stories of being thrown files the night before major hearings or being asked to execute tasks for which law school did not prepare us. In those moments, the thing that is called for most is courage. To be a zealous advocate, impactful counselor, and dynamic attorney, we all must have courage.

Many of us know that courage does not mean the absence of fear. Many of us have heard the formula for courage summed up by everyone from Atticus Finch to John Wayne. Recently, I read a formula for courage that appeared particularly apt to the unique challenges of practicing law.

To have courage you must have: confidence, optimism, self-esteem, perseverance, respect for others, a sense of responsibility, the ability to apply oneself, faith in the future, and a love of life.

At the outset, we can see that this is quite the disparate list. Yet, when we look closer we can see the application of each of these items to our jobs as attorneys and our life in the law. I invite you to let me know how you connect these elements to your practice, but please allow me to highlight a few from mine. I hope it helps to strengthen your courage.

Optimism & Faith in the Future – For me, as a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer, optimism is required from signing up a case to handing it off to the Jury after final argument. But, each of us has to have this same quality in the moments of the deepest stress. It is not as simple as believing that you will get the assignment done or the deadline met. Rather, it is a belief in yourself that when things do go wrong or when you do fail that you will grow and do better next time. Your life in the law is a long one, and you must believe that you can run the race come what may.

Respect for others – The Texas Lawyer’s Creed calls us to a higher standard of practice. Respect for others goes beyond the usual suspects of court and opposing counsel. Respect for others includes your clients, your bosses, and your colleagues, too. Most important, it includes your spouses, your loved ones, your friends, and your family. The turmoil of practicing law challenges us to respect our personal relationships and guard them jealously. Life will not be carefree when the jury trial is over. There will always be something else, and there will always be something else to take your time away. Only you, focused on showing your loved ones the deepest respect, can set the boundaries you need to make those you love a priority. Who would be left in your life if you were not a lawyer? Those are to whom you must show the greatest respect.

Love of Life – When catastrophe happens, when joy rains down, it is all part of our life’s story. Being a lawyer allows us to go new places, see new things, solve new problems. Looking beyond the chaotic nature of law practice, we need to see that we are actually living the life for which we have always planned. All of us lawyers dreamed of becoming lawyers before we took our oaths. Yet, many of us live like we have not yet become what we were dreaming about. This dream is not without turmoil or setbacks, and some of us struggle each day simply to make it to the next. Yet, if we step back for just a moment, we can relish the fact that we are actually living what was once only a dream.

Have courage, my friends. Be courageous in the large and small, in the up and the down, and at home and in the courtroom. With courage, we will find peace in our practice and joy in our hearts.

Enjoy the issue,

Andy Jones

Andy Jones is a senior associate at Sawicki Law and a director for the Texas Young Lawyers Association. He can be reached at ajones@sawickilawfirm.com.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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