Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Lawyer's View of T&E Lawyers

On the Online Blog dedicated to Lawyers & Law Firms hosted by the Wall Street Journal, a refreshing narrative was posted on September 22, 2006, entitled "Pressing the Flesh in Philadelphia".

It is the fourth installment of that Online Journal's "Diary of a Law-Job Seeker", by Christopher Slowik, a 37-year-old Brooklyn Law graduate who is looking for his first law job. You can read the first three installments here, here, and here.

In his latest dispatch, Chris related how he altered his approach from applying to jobs via email and fax, and tried giving "networking at an industry conference a shot".

Resumes were handed out, business cards were collected, promises were made to stay in touch down the road. I left the conference with a clutch of new leads, but more importantly, with a real sense of excitement and a vision of the future. Getting out and meeting people had recharged my batteries, just as I thought it might.

Why am I so impressed by his enthusiastic reaction?

Because Chris Slowik was hanging out at a legal conference in Philadelphia with Trust & Estates Lawyers!

I decided to go where the potential employers were. The trusts and estates section of the state bar association sent me a flyer advertising its fall meeting. T&E is on the short list of practice areas I want to pursue. So I ponied up the $300 registration fee and headed off to the meeting in Philadelphia.

Of course, I wanted to meet people who might hire me. I also wanted to get a better feel for the practice: Were veteran attorneys happy to be working in this field? Did they see it as a good area for a new attorney? What would they say to someone just starting out? I was eager to get the straight dope. * * *

On the bus to dinner, I chatted with a solo practitioner who described his practice as an intriguing mix of estate planning, elder law and litigation. During the cocktail hour, I chatted with partners and associates from firms throughout the state. One attorney told me about the steps she was taking to safeguard the affairs of an institutionalized client who had no family or friends, and it was clear that her genuine concern for this man was far more than simply a matter of professional duty.

At dinner, I sat with lawyers who were working at firms, for trust companies, and even for software vendors. I listened and asked questions. Everyone with whom I spoke was pleased to share his or her thoughts with a rookie. People spoke freely and without restraint. Almost without exception, I was moved by the obvious depth of feeling that these attorneys had for their work. It was clear to me that they loved what they did, and it was becoming increasingly clear to me that I would love it too.

My experience for thirty years in this field of law parallels that of Chris during his short exposure to T&E lawyers at the seminar.

We practice in an "intriguing field", invest "genuine concern" in our cases and towards our clients, and routinely go beyond our "professional duty." Trust & estate lawyers do possess a "depth of feeling" that issues from the "love" we feel for what we do.

You are welcome to come into the clubhouse, Chris.