I decided to be a lawyer after conducting a career study as a freshman in high school. Having been a good student in both Math and English, I narrowed my choices to a professional career as an engineer or lawyer. Given the construction bust in the mid-80s in Texas, the legal profession won out. When I thought of being a lawyer, the only type of lawyer I could consider was a courtroom lawyer, a trial lawyer! Having watch Perry Mason, LA Law, and assorted lawyer movies growing up, I just knew that being in a courtroom was going to be my place in the world.
When I attended college, I took communication and speech courses to help improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet, not that I had trouble with either before then. I was blessed with a mother and step-father who were professional newspaper journalists. My mother was a copy editor, and my step-father was a reporter and later a news editor. Both taught me to write well, improving not only my writing mechanics and fundamentals but also my writing style and voice.
While in college, I also joined a pre-law fraternity. The fraternity didn’t help much with my skills, but I appreciated being around people with similar interests. Most of my fellow collegiate students in the fraternity also wanted to be trial attorneys, so there was definitely a lot of confident and outgoing people with whom to share experiences.
By the time I reached law school, my writing and speaking skills were great, but they hadn’t been honed yet for the legal profession. I earned Best Brief in my first-year legal writing class, after having earned Honors in my first-year legal research class. I followed my first year with a summer of creating and developing the new and only student chapter of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association so that I could bring hands-on teaching from experienced local trial attorneys. My law school career continued with student advocacy competitions in mock trial, moot court, and mediation, as well as being on the Board of the student organization that managed all of those competitions.
By the time I graduated from law school, my confidence to do what I had set out to do all those years before was higher than ever. My first ever courtroom experience fell flat, however, as I helped a friend through an agreed divorce proceeding. Half-way through the prove-up hearing, the judge politely stopped me and took over the questioning in order to get the matter concluded. Not deterred, I kept at it and was blessed to be asked by one of my law school lawyer mentors to represent him in a partnership-dissolution case regarding the breakup of his law firm partnership. To be sure, he would be the managing attorney, but I was able to work hard, observe, and participate in hearings and the two-week jury trial within nine months of being licensed. The experience was hard work but phenomenal. I have loved the courtroom ever since that first year of practice 15 years ago!
Being a trial lawyer is not easy, and most people don’t recognize or understand that amount of work that goes into a case before it ever sees the light of a courtroom in front of the judge or jury. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not only do I represent my own clients in court, but I also am retained by other attorneys to represent their clients in court. I am in court a great deal these days and loving every minute of it!