Thursday, January 05, 2006

the future

Our office is set up ( I would assume) like most other public defender offices across the country. We have different divisions from juvenile, appellate, mental health, civil, and criminal. Jack, Chrissy and I are in the criminal division. While there are attorney's that have been lawyers much longer than me (including Jack) I have been here the longest as a trial attorney with the office. The one person that had been hired a year before me is leaving the 20th. Now, (I'm not including the other divisions or the Chief or Deputy Chief) I'm it. We lost alot of attorneys in 2005. Some to a move to another city or state, some to retirement, some to just being tired. I was told, when I was first hired, that after five years you have to decide whether your going to be a lifer or you have to go find something else to do while your brain can still learn something new.
I love being a public defender. I love criminal law. I can't imagine practicing in a big firm where I HAVE to wear stockings everyday or for that matter a suit every day and never seeing a court room. I was an athlete growing up I like the adrenilin rush that you get when you set foot on a battle field its the same rush you get when you walk in a court room and own it. I've talked to former pd's that have left for the money of other firms or insurance defense. They make more money but they're not happy. WHY would you spend three years after college and countless dollars on education not to be happy at work. Isn't that the benefit of higher education so you can have a careet that you love and not have to work a menial job just to pay the bills? Don't get me wrong, would love to get a raise. But I still get to go on my adventures around the counrty and world. I have at least one vacation (usually more) a year, I own my own house, and I have food in the fridge what really more can you ask for?

What started this rant you may ask? Well, periodically, I go and talk to another attorney who primarily does death penalty work. We only do it about once every six months but its sort of a sanity check. Her personality and mine are very similar. She's told me this in the past, but this time it hit, she told me I need to leave this work or it will suck me dry. I was approached in the last six months to start transitioning into death work. I understand that its supposed to be the most rewarding work as a public defender or criminal practioner but I've also seen the after effects it has on an attorney. It's not pretty, regardless the result. This attorney approached criminal work the same way I currently do but she told me you can't do our style in death work. It absorbs your entire soul. I keep my emotions out of the case, unless it involves a juvenile client. I do a very good job with juvenile clients in the adult system but I hate them. They stress me out more than any other case, cause I feel I can save them. This is my worry about death work. My job will literally be to save them not their souls but their lives.
I'm not going anywhere any time soon, (don't worry Jack ) I went to law school to help people and I get to do that here. I like to be needed and my clients need me even if I do tell them the truth and don't blow sunshine up there asses when that's what they want to hear. I may get my soul sucked dry but at least I did it to uphold the constitution and to help the people that others won't look at when their walking down the city streets. I truly believe that we all have a role to fill, this I believe is mine.
Janet

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