I had the privilege on Friday evening of attending a Professional Dinner where my colleagues were recognised for their efforts as legal practitioners. These sorts of dinners are always an interesting affair. Of course you are seated at a table of strangers and before you know it you find yourself in that age old conversation “So what do you do…”
Well I was seated in a room full of lawyers so I guess the conversation was a little more narrow than normal.
“What sort of law do you do?”
I say of course “I am a family lawyer” and then you tend to get one of two sorts of reactions. Generally the face of the person you are speaking to at that point cringes and you get a sort of “Gee, that sounds hard” or my other favourite “Oh yes, I have (or my sister/ friend/partner/ my (insert other important person)) has or is going through a divorce”. As a general rule, these comments are often not said with a sense of excitement but more with either empathy or sometimes disdain. I find it so very fascinating that there is a perception that being a family lawyer is almost a terrible task.
I tend to have a standard answer to these comments which goes something like this “Oh I love it- it is like ‘Days of our Lives’ all day, every day”. I find this tends to get the conversation back on a slightly more positive note and steers me away from having to dive into hearing about or advising on the latest divorce in the family.
The thing is, I love what I do. Why? Well if I knew the exact answer to that question I would be much wiser than I am. I think my love for my job changes all the time- sometimes it is the clients, it is the good I am able to do, it is the friendships I am able to form, the closeness and trust I am able to build and the learning I receive everyday from the people I am working with.
On Friday evening I was asked an interesting question from a curious table guest- “Doesn’t being a family lawyer make you question your marriage?”
“No, Never.” Was my answer. Being a family lawyer makes me value my marriage more and more each day. I appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining, sustaining and enjoying being married. I appreciate the ups and the downs. I value my husband’s patience with me and all my crazy ideas more than anything in this world. My family is the most important thing to me and I have grown up with two parents who demonstrate every day the benefits of sticking together, loving each other and occasionally even disagreeing.
Being a Family Lawyer is something I am immensely proud of. The capacity to assist others to preserve their family even perhaps in a different form is something I treasure.