Michael Sean Quinn*

One hears a great deal these days about the law of lawyering, the core concepts of disciplinary rules and responsible lawyering, the ethics of lawyering, the moral principles governing sound practice, and so forth, each of which is important. 

We also hear a good deal about the rate of depression manifesting itself in and among lawyers, the degree to which lawyers do not like what they do, at least after they’ve been doing it a while,  and one often hears about the amount of partially disabling anxiety one finds in younger lawyers.  (Of course, manifesting this state of affairs is virtually forbidden.)

One hears little about the joys of lawyering or the positivity which can be found in the practice of law.  One almost never hears about the love one can have for justice, the law, and the practice of law.  One hears nothing or next to nothing about the love one can have for a client.  Usually, that phraseology and its message have a sexual framework and we can all agree that love affairs with clients are almost always a bad idea, may be illegal, unethical, immoral, and unwise. Subtract sexuality and the erotic from the idea of loving someone, and those who render personally important complex services might find it a good thing to think in terms of having love for or toward some, many, most, or all their clients. It seems to me that Jesus got this one right. How he was and is interpreted is a different matter. 

I personally cannot think of loving some of my clients. They are too awful for words. Is that my failing. I guess Jesus and St. Paul would say yes. I myself am not even trying. I have better and more important things to do, and I’m a busy fellow? Good, rightful, and non-sinful omissions on my part?

Maybe I and my compatriots are too idealistic or too saccharine, but if one loves justice–as all lawyers must (or, at least, should)–then representing people in the process of finding and rendering justice is a sacred calling and not merely a job. (This proposition is true even if there is a kind of pluralism as to what counts as genuine justice.)

So, what to do; what to do?  I come to think that many parts of our lives accentuate the negative. Some call it a “negativity bias.” Of course, this wording implies that we are unnecessarily dominated by a belief and a feeling that things are–at least often–worse than they actually are. 

Maybe, immensely self-confident lawyers escape this malaise, to be sure. But then the question becomes how many of the apparently maximally self-confident lawyers have learned to falsely manifest something which does not exist or exists to a much smaller extent.  If so, then this sort of apparent self-confidence is a huge source of anxiety and eventual depression. It becomes a living “false self,” a “phony-self.  My understanding is that the great John O’Quinn died of alcoholism. 

*Michael has studied and participated in insurance lawyering and litigation of many sorts, including legal malpractice, for more than 30 years. He is currently a partner in Quinn and Carmona a law firm that focuses in part on problems in insurance disputes and mediations thereof. Office (512) 768-6840, Quinn Cell :(512) 656-0503. Mail: P.0. Box 162344