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Being a lawyer is all about arguing .... with everyone

Posted by Jordan Tapia | Jul 22, 2022 | 0 Comments

I have been asked many times what being a lawyer is all about and whether or not it's worth it to go to law school. In and of itself, that's a loaded question and there are tons of resources to help with making the right career choices, getting the most out of your law degree, networking, etc. but there is very little that explains the day to day in the life of a lawyer. Lawyering is a lot of things but what they don't teach you in law school is that no matter what you do your career will ALWAYS be centered around ARGUING WITH PEOPLE. That's a really important aspect of the job that is entirely overlooked by law schools, which is strange considering that no matter what state you plan to practice in you will almost always find a "attorney wellness" or "mental health awareness" or "preventing substance abuse in the profession" committee in your local bar organization. Let me tell you - arguing has to be the single most mentally exhausting thing of any lawyer's day. It's not limited to arguing with your self represented adversary or opposing counsel, oh no no no, it's also about arguing with judges (with the exception perhaps of if you go into transactional law), and yep, even your own clients.   

I came back from court not too long ago (I won't say where or what judge I was in front of) and truly wondered what the %*#! had gone wrong. In short, I had asked my adversary for documents that were crucial to my case, importantly, documents I was entitled to. Not once, but three different times. Two of those were in front of the judge. He refused. So, I made the appropriate motion. When we appeared in front of the judge, my adversary was permitted an opportunity to be heard, or more accurately ramble on, become disrespectful and loud without so much as an interruption from the judge or the court officers that were apparently happy to watch the drama unfold. BUT OH..... when I should have been permitted a chance to be heard (which is part of the judges' rules), the judge, rather than hearing the actual merits of my motion reamed me out in perhaps the most condescending way ever, explaining that I should learn what situations I should file motions in and in her (personal) opinion this case was not one of them. It is important to note THIS IS NOT A LEGAL ARGUMENT otherwise she would have simply denied my motion and we could have moved on. I knew it, she knew it. 

This was a case where I was representing the landlord defending against a savage man who had had several prior restraining orders against him for domestic violence against his girlfriend and mother of his children claiming that my client had illegally locked him out, which was a blatant lie. He was never living in the apartment - his girlfriend had been the tenant of my client and had vacated the apartment and surrendered it back to the landlord. This didn't become a problem until two months after the girlfriend moved out of my client's apartment and into another with her boyfriend (now, my adversary) when apparently there was another restraining order filed against this evil would-be squatter and it was only then that, since he had nowhere to go as he could no longer stay with his girlfriend, that he attempted to prey on my unsuspecting client and force his way into living in an apartment he had no right to be living in.   

What I've learned from this experience is that most days you are likely to be arguing with someone - adversaries, clients, judges. It's important to be respectful but to also be firm, and don't be afraid to stand your ground when advocating for clients. I remember my client telling me after that experience that she thought the judge was going to hold me in contempt so I explained all of the reasons why the judge was wrong for her rant but that the judge was more upset that I challenged her in such a way that there was no basis for her holding me in contempt. I won't pretend like the situation didn't leave me a bit rattled but I have retained some great advice about the way to keeping a thick skin is about shielding yourself from the emotional toll arguing takes. You have to wear it like an actual shield of armor. If you can't do that, you aren't cut out for this!

About the Author

Jordan Tapia

Phone: (212) 566-6780 Email: [email protected] Jordan Tapia, a partner at our law firm, is known as a fierce litigator. She has successfully represented various small businesses facing eviction and has helped many come to an amicable resolution with their landlord, often avoiding litigati...


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