Do you think we should have a time capsule for 2020? Obviously masks, hand sanitizer, virus tests of any kind and type, face shields, all the other PPE would go in there, but what else? Obituaries for hundreds of thousands who have already died and the number continues to rise? And where should you place this capsule? And how long does it take to open it?
I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who will regret it when 2020 hits its retreat. I’ve been through a lot of crap considering my age since the Vietnam War and that war changed my life in so many ways. However, there has never been anything like this in my life. Good relief 2020, you can’t leave soon enough. Let me push you out the door
So I’m not going to look back (as Satchel Paige said, don’t look back because something is gaining in you), and I’m not going to look forward except for the arrival of the vaccine. Looking forward is not my strong point. A year ago nobody thought about what was coming. Also, my crystal ball is in the store. I can wait. I leave future thinking to those who are experts in forecasting. However, I assume that we need to rethink the bar exam, the practice of multiple jurisdiction and the possibilities for better access to justice.
I can wait my turn whenever that is. I can wait how long it will take for the “new normal” to be reached. I can wait for so many things.
Lawyers are usually not patient people. (Surprise!) But I think this year may have slowed the overdeveloped sense of urgency we all have. Does it have to be done this minute? This hour? This day? Are most of the issues we deal with really that urgent today, especially today? Do we need a truce? See Appendix A.
Our urgency is nothing compared to what is happening around us. Our profession has a culture with a proud history of service, but a dark side that we should avoid.
The tragic murder / suicide of a Connecticut lawyer and his wife is a reminder that truces should potentially last longer than the holidays. And that we have to take care of ourselves and our customers. How many more stories do we need to read before lawyers finally understand that, as Kurt Vonnegut said, we are human, not human? We practice law, we don’t perfect it and we have yet to learn that our clients’ problems are not ours, but theirs.
So many dead, so many “long-distance drivers”, so many lives have changed forever. For many lawyers with roofs over their heads, food on the table and some money in the bank, the world has not changed. Yes, we are zooming, skyping, face timing, blue jeansing or whatever service we use to connect with the world. However, we are fairly sheltered from many of the realities faced every day by important workers who are unemployed due to business closings of all kinds and who wait in long lines at food banks. We may whine and complain about how the pandemic is affecting our lives, but I think we are essentially luckier than many. Remember it.
The CDC says lawyers and judges fall under the definition of “other essential workers” to sign up for the vaccine. When will the dishes be fully functional again? And unless the jury is made up of key staff, they are unlikely to be stocking the grocery shelves, delivering mail and packages, and most importantly trying to save lives, when will the trials take place without the current fear that lives in all countries us (if not the virus)?
Mark Herrmann asks how we’re going to talk after January 20th.
The Twitter universe could get boring, (Hurray!), As well as other social media that I prefer to call “anti-social media”. Less bullying, less hostility, maybe a kinder world? Wouldn’t that be a relief, wouldn’t that be a pleasure? Could it lead to fewer tweets like this?
So many deaths from the virus, but so many heroes. Somehow, in the time of all of this horror as the world goes on, legal work, transactions, discovery battles – the things that make up the day-to-day life of lawyers – aren’t that big a deal. Unless it’s a high-stakes criminal case (and the death penalty can’t be higher), it’s about money: who has it, who wants it, who gets it, and right now I don’t think these things are real are important nowadays. I can hear the howl of protest, especially in the “biglaw world”, but just wait a minute. What is really important these days? What should really be important these days? If the answer has nothing to do with health and family, then this profession is lower than I think.
Nothing is more important than our health, the health and the love of family and friends. Just ask anyone who has lost a loved one among the nearly 350,000 (I can’t believe I’m writing this number) who died in the US this year. Just ask someone who has had and wins a loved one battling the virus, but whose life is forever changed.
Hopefully we learn that the things that matter are not billable hours, but like I said, the world keeps turning. Thank you to those who made it possible for us to move on.
Jill Switzer has been an active member of the State Bar of California for over 40 years. She remembers working as a lawyer in a friendlier time. She had a varied legal career, including as a deputy public prosecutor, as a solo practice and as leading in-house gigs. She now teaches all day what gives her the opportunity to see dinosaurs, millennials, and the people in between – it’s not always bourgeois. You can reach them by email at [email protected].