Can you keep your professional life from becoming personal? Lots of people love to tell you to keep those two spheres separate. Especially with the advent of smartphones, where work can invade all of your personal time if you let it, keeping these two worlds completely divorced from one another is just not possible. And that’s just logistically. What about emotionally? Most advice from those wiser than me says to try and make sure you keep certain time to yourself to relax, to maintain perspective, and to combat the effects of pervasive stress. I make valiant efforts at this, as chronicled on this very website.
I’m telling you now, honestly, this isn’t possible. Maybe sometimes it is, but not all the time. Not if you have clients you care about. Not if you truly believe they’ve suffered an injustice that needs to be addressed. It’s not possible if you try cases.
Trial lawyers pour their souls into the plight of their clients. You won’t be a good litigator if you don’t connect with and feel deep compassion for your client. And for that reason alone, you bring home their pain, their suffering…and you bring home their hope. Hope. It’s such a beautiful thing. But it leaves you so entirely vulnerable. If you believe in something deeply, are invested in it personally, and are truly hopeful about a certain outcome, you will bring it all home. You will bring home the pain, the stress, the sadness, the success, the joy, and, most painfully, the failure.
When you become a “professional,” whether it be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or whatever else, people tend to assume that you are, indeed, professional. All of the time. That you can handle whatever comes your way. They tend to assume you are immune to certain outcomes. Professionals have hearts, too. It might be hard for us to show it, trying to keep our professional poker faces on, but it’s there.
Look past the impassive facial expression because our shoulders are tight, our lips are pursed, our laughs are forced. Our gaze is steely because if it’s not, all the emotions could burst forth. We are invested in you. And, sometimes, our hearts are breaking for you.