I See Happy Lawyers

Last night the Sports Dude and I attended the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic holiday concert and couldn’t help but notice all the smiling and happy lawyers in the room.

Yes, we’ve all heard the negative stories about how there are no jobs for recent law school grads, high suicide rates, and a high percentage who are unhappy, and would not do it again.

But that cannot be the beginning, nor the end, of the story.

Last night, the founder and conductor of the orchestra, Gary S. Greene, Esq., told a great story about George Frideric Handel. Apparently, when Handel was young and showed a talent for music, his parents got rid of his piano because they wanted him to be a lawyer.

Could you imagine?? You have a pure talent, and yet you are forced to bury it to become a lawyer. However he did it, Handel was able to pursue his passion for music and avoid becoming another unhappy lawyer statistic.

Yes, the world was minus one lawyer, but in return we received many musical gifts, including the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah.

Listening to The Hon. Steven Perren, Justice of the California Appellate Court, singing “O Sole Mio,” or the world premiere of “The Ruritanian Dances” by Justice George Palmer, Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was law their first choice?”

How many of these talented men and women in this orchestra secretly desired to be professional musicians, but were instead shuttled off to law school by their parents??

I am a firm believer that you need to be passionate about what you do. But what if you’re not? What if you’re 45-years old, have a spouse, a mortgage, a couple of kids to put through college, with a law firm partnership, but you really want to be a chef?

While I’m sure there are many lawyers out there whose passion is analyzing U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the question is “Is it yours?”

I very much enjoy what I do for a living, but I am happiest when writing, cooking a formal meal, or in the pit at a concert, because those are my personal passions (outside of my kids, of course).

I am also extremely passionate about social media, and have found a way to integrate that into my life and my career. I am extremely content, and, yes, happy every day (although it wasn’t always like this, but that’s a different story).

I suppose where I’m going with all of this is that if you cannot LIVE your original passion, you have to at least experience and enjoy it on a regular basis. You need to embrace that part of you that was perhaps stifled in pursuit of a law degree, or your current career.

You owe it to yourself to integrate your passion into you life, if not on a daily basis, than weekly at the least.

Just think, every Monday night at a church in LA’s mid-Wilshire neighborhood, there’s a room full of lawyers, judges, law students and the like making sweet music. One hundred or so happy legal professionals experiencing and expressing their passion.

Life is too short. Happiness too fleeting. Make your passion happen.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic

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  1. Heather, beautiful post. I am sure there are many in the legal profession, as well as in many other professions, industries and businesses that ended up where they are because they were in some place at the right time. Life circumstances take people on paths they hadn’t chosen when they were younger. Your point about finding a way to satisfy those longings in some other way is important. It doesn’t have to be a wholesale change of career, but taking part in activities that allow souls to be fed. Again, great post.

    • linzelcakes
    • December 21st, 2010

    This reminded me of a post I read yesterday by Richard Russeth, about lawyers needing an “antidote” to practicing law: http://community.martindale.com/legal-groups/Lawyer_Tech_2/lawyer_career_center/b/lawyer_career_center-blog/archive/2010/12/20/two-practices-one-life-why-your-life-outside-the-law-matters.aspx

    Great post & a good reminder that we can find different ways to pursue our passions!

    • Sean Timmons
    • December 21st, 2010

    Heather: Thanks for this! A friend and colleague of mine just played a Christmas service at my church (we both play trombone — he actually studied at Manhattan School of Music). It reminded me that I don’t do enough playing anymore, but that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, right? Happy Holidays. Sean

  2. Few people have a passion for EVERYTHING…they do.

    Some have no passion at all for ANYTHING…they do.

    I would wager a bet that most all of the Lawyers who participate in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic not only have a passion for the music they play, but also for the law they practice.

    If I am correct, those Lawyers are fortunate, indeed.

    Jerome M. Bame, Esq.
    Coach-Mentor-Confidant to Lawyers
    Blog: http://www.PracticingLawSucks.com

    • David Waller
    • December 24th, 2010

    Heather: What eloquent and poignant thoughts. I am a cellist in the Los Angeles Lawyers Phil and I felt as if you had written your wonderful piece just for me. I have loved my legal career, but have loved staying in touch with my musical perforamce even more. I have always said that I’m not a lawyer, but rather a musician who practices law. Thanks again.

    David Waller

  3. Few people have a passion for EVERYTHING…they do. Some have no passion at all for ANYTHING…they do. I would wager a bet that most all of the Lawyers who participate in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic not only have a passion for the music they play, but also for the law they practice. If I am correct, those Lawyers are fortunate, indeed. Jerome M. Bame, Esq. Coach-Mentor-Confidant to Lawyers Blog: http://www.PracticingLawSucks.com

  4. Few people have a passion for EVERYTHING…they do. Some have no passion at all for ANYTHING…they do. I would wager a bet that most all of the Lawyers who participate in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic not only have a passion for the music they play, but also for the law they practice. If I am correct, those Lawyers are fortunate, indeed. Jerome M. Bame, Esq. Coach-Mentor-Confidant to Lawyers Blog: http://www.PracticingLawSucks.com

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