First, what do I do? I specialize in trusts and estates, which means we do estate planning (drafting wills, trusts, end of life documents, etc), and administration (trust administration, probate, after-death planning). This means I’m really good at my area of laws (trusts, estates, and to some extent, taxes) and know very little about the others.
Also, I shouldn’t have to do this, but I’m a lawyer, and we’re all about covering our asses:
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the States of Oregon and California. I am ethically required to state that the information herein does not create an attorney/client relationship. These posts should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. ***
Prepare for a bunch of stereotypes… I’m going to talk about lawyers.
It takes a certain kind of personality to become a lawyer. Almost every lawyer I’ve met has been a fairly driven individual (you have to be to survive law school), but their driving forces differ. The idealistic ones are driven to make the world a better place. The mercenary ones are driven to make lots of money. Still more a driven by their parents – being a lawyer seems pretty prestigious. But whatever it is, most people make it to and through law school because of that drive. I might be an exception to that rule (at least on how I got to law school, but that’s a long story for another time).
I find fictional writers to be written in a couple different ways. One, you’ve got the wannabe Atticus Finch, a noble soul who protects the little guy (we’ll ignore the recent publication of a story that portrays him differently). The other is the Law and Order type of ball-busting, do whatever it takes to make their case brute force litigator.
And while those two type do exist in the law, there are an awful lot of other lawyers out who range the spectrum on personality types.
But, let’s talk litigators. Caveat, I’m not a litigator. But my boss is one and this is what I’ve observed from watching her and others in the courtroom. As they say in Clueless, litigators are the scariest kind of lawyer. Not really, although it does take a very specific type of personality to become a litigator, I think. To me, there’s a need for an ego level that allows you to walk into a courtroom and tell the judge, jury, and anyone who might be listening that you’re right. And then explain why you’re right, even if the facts aren’t in your favor. That’s a kind of gut deep conviction that what you’re presenting is right.
And you have to do that whether or not you actually feel that way. I’ve known plenty of litigators who really didn’t like their clients or what they were fighting for. But they fight hard anyway.
So when writing a litigator, just don’t make them a bombastic, bullheaded know-it-all. Maybe give him or her some depth by giving them a side that wishes they were out there saving the rain forest (that’s why they went to law school), but could only find this job and now they’re getting paid huge sums of money to represent the people bulldozing the trees.
Give them a client they hate but they know they can win the case. Give them a client they love who they absolutely know they can’t win.
Or just make them Denny Crane, if nothing else works. 🙂
Next time – transactional attorneys, like yours truly
Skye became the black sheep of her university’s literature department when she announced that what she really wanted to do for her senior thesis, instead of writing a thought-provoking essay on the deeper meanings of James Joyce, was to write a romance novel. They gave in, however, and the rest is history. As a result, Skye learned more than she ever thought possible about the inner workings of the publishing industry and off and on, given her schedule, pursued publication of both her senior thesis and other novels she’s written along the way.
Skye has many names and almost as many personalities to go with them. As Melinda Skye, she writes Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy, and Young Adult. As Skye Forbes, she may (or may not) have saved the world a few times over. In her real life, under another different name, Skye is a lawyer. And yes, if you ask nicely, she might help keep you out of jail. Or put you in it. It depends on her mood.
Skye lives in California, with her husband, brand new daughter, and menagerie of animals.