Love in the Legal Field by Danielle Dixon
What would you write about if you were asked to write a blog about love?
More specifically, what would you write about if you were asked to write a blog about love for other lawyers to read?
I pondered that question for several days, quickly dismissing idea after idea. No, you don't want to hear about my children. No, you don't want to hear about my marriage. No, you don't really want to hear about the group of girls I hang out with.
But perhaps you would be interested in reading about how I have encountered love while working as a lawyer. I admit, I was a little too excited when I landed on that idea. But then . . . nothing.
As lawyers, we don't often encounter love through our work. We are a litigious, adversarial, often overly-hostile bunch. It's understandable. Our jobs require us to delve into other people's mistakes and misfortunes. Our jobs require us to negotiate and advocate and reach the best result for our client, which isn't necessarily the best outcome for the collective whole. This can sometimes lead to nasty, embittered disputes with other attorneys. Often it's for our client's benefit, but sometimes, in our competitiveness, we forget to respect one another or show love to one another.
But I have to believe love exists in the legal field. I have to believe we have a deeper reason for what we do other than to obtain more money, more success, or more "wins."
And I know it does.
I remember being a young attorney. I had a client who was seeking custody of her grandson. I listened intently as she described what it is like to care for an infant who is addicted to crack-cocaine—the countless hours spent holding and coddling an infant who is suffering from withdrawal. She explained that this was her third grandchild, she had custody of her other two grandchildren, and she wanted custody of this one because her daughter was addicted to crack-cocaine. I agreed to file a custody action on her behalf.
A few weeks later, my client called me to let me know her daughter was in jail. Selfishly, I thought that would make my case that much easier to prove. I filed an order to transport and prepared for the temporary hearing.
The hearing date arrived, and my client and I stood before the judge prepared to present our case. As police officers escorted my client's daughter into the courtroom in chains, I held my breath, anticipating a nasty exchange.
I was not prepared for what happened next.
"Momma," the young woman cried, tears streaming down her face. My client walked over to her and embraced her. The two stood together for several minutes, sobbing. I heard my client whisper softly to her daughter, and I watched her daughter—the opposing party—nod in agreement. They embraced again, and then the hearing commenced.
I obtained a temporary order of custody for my client that day. But what I obtained for her paled in comparison to what she showed me: the power of love, and how it can overcome anger, hostility, and wounded pride. My client was an amazing mother and grandmother, and despite everything her daughter put her through, I never heard her utter a negative word about her. Through her actions of caring for a crack-cocaine-addicted grandchild and forgiving her daughter for the pain she caused, she showed me that love is more powerful than anger and more meaningful than a successful day.