Advice to New Lawyers

by Vault Education Editors | December 22, 2009

  • My Vault

Randy Wilson, a judge in the 157th District Court in Texas, wrote a letter to his two children, both of whom are starting their careers as lawyers. With their permission, he submitted the letter to Texas Lawyer magazine. His note includes many valuable insights and pieces of advice for soon-to-be law school grads, recent JDs and lawyers of any age. I've included two of his gems below. Happy Holidays!

"A Letter to the Next Generation of Lawyers"

Law school teaches basic fundamentals and critical thinking, yet you still have much to learn about the tactics and nuances of the practice. The subtleties require a lifetime of study with the assurance they will never be mastered. You face a long yet thrilling road...

Be proud to be a lawyer

We are bombarded with lawyer jokes and ridicule. We laugh politely at the jokes, and, I have to confess, I have told a few myself. Don't do it. For hundreds of years, society considered the law a noble profession, and lawyers have been the stalwarts of defending legal rights. Lawyers desegregated the schools and improved product safety.

Even the most vocal of lawyer bashers are the first to call a lawyer when they feel their rights are being trampled upon. And finally, don't forget that the most famous lawyer bash--"[t]he first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"--was actually an acknowledgement by Shakespeare in "Henry VI, Part II" that lawyers must be eliminated in order to achieve a revolution. Be proud to be a lawyer.

Take the long view

You're going to be in this game for the long haul. There's no shortcut that's worth it--never. If you have a bad document, produce it. If your client is lying to make his case, fire him. Compromising your conscience just is not worth it. There will be other cases. It's a cliché, but it's true: A legal career is a marathon, not a race.

Filed Under: Education

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