Sherry Fowler of Stay of Execution has started an interesting cross-blogging conversation about the differences between “transactional lawyers” and “litigators.” One of her posts is titled, "Why I'm Not Interested In Litigation." As a trial lawyer (i.e., a "litigator") and a huge fan of Sherry’s blawg, I feel that I am duty-bound to comment. At the outset, however, I must point out that Sherry probably won’t like what I have to say.
Many trial lawyers like me, undoubtedly suffering from ego overload, are too self-absorbed to analyze the legal roads we chose not to travel. The moment we set foot in a courtroom, we no longer have time for such debates. After all, we're the brave ones who walked through those heavy courtroom doors. What about those other lawyers still waiting in the hallway? We have no time for them. We’re trial lawyers. We're all that matters. In our more lucid moments, we know that these thoughts are not completely rational. Nonetheless, it’s what we tell ourselves in the morning, and what we tell ourselves at night. We are the trial lawyers, we say. We are brilliant.
Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear. Put it this way. Trial lawyers view the legal solar system as follows. Trial lawyers are the sun. Copernicus was right, but so was Ptolemy: not only are trial lawyers at the center of the solar system, they're also at the center of the whole damned universe. If you have petty legal documents to draft, please don’t bother us about them. We're too busy shining brightly. And all you others who make up the rest of the legal universe—the bankruptcy lawyers, the sports lawyers, the lawyers who represent Eminem: you can all argue among yourselves about whether you’re a large planet, or a colorful nebulae, or a galaxy cluster. Take your pick. It doesn't matter to us because we’re already at the center of the whole damned universe. Whatever you choose to be, just be sure not to stray too close to us in your orbits or you’ll quite likely be scorched by our brilliance.
That’s my trial-lawyer-centric theory of the law. As a card-carrying trial lawyer, I’m bound to follow it. And though I'd like to add something of greater substance to the discussion, I’m busy at the moment behaving like a sun in a city far away from my home base. I hope to send another solar flare in Sherry’s direction sometime next week . . .