My One-Day Job

There is one job I’ve had that few people know about. It was 1993, and, fresh out of law school, I was looking for a job as an attorney. I went through interview after interview. Some in posh surroundings, some in converted Chinese restaurants (really). It was a bad time to be a lawyer just getting out of law school. Few people could get jobs. My student loans were coming due. I was desperate.

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And then I got an interview and a job in a small firm in downtown Baltimore. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was a job. Yet throughout the process, there was this niggling, small voice that told me something wasn’t quite right. I ignored it.

I reported to work on Monday and spent most of the day reading workers’ compensation manuals. I was prepared. I knew it was not the most exciting job in the world.

In the afternoon, I was going to a workers’ compensation hearing with a partner. He was an odd guy. Very sarcastic. Not optimistic. Quite jaded.

As we waited for the hearing to start, he told me that one of my tasks would be to meet the clients, and then ask our clients things like, “do you have a family member who fell down a stairwell?” Or, “do you have friends who have hurt themselves at other people’s houses or in stores?”And then I was to call them up, tell them what I thought had happened to them, and offer to represent them.

My heart sank. I knew what all the attorneys out there reading this knew. I wasn’t allowed to do this. This was an ethical violation. And more than that, it was morally wrong (they are 2 different things, but that is a blog post for another day).

I came back to the office after the hearing and sat at my desk. My stomach churned. I was promised a fairly nice paycheck by 1993 standards, and I could begin to pay my student loans in 3 weeks when they came due. I fought with myself for about a half an hour.

Something (and I think it was God) made me get up and go into the managing partner’s office. I told him this wasn’t going to work out. I apologized for the short tenure (to say the least). I packed my briefcase and drove home, crying all the way.

I was crushed. I was so scared. I had to tell my husband, my parents, and family. How would my loans get paid?? Who turns down a law job in that terrible job market??

We all have events in our lives that bring us to a fork in the road. And we have to make a choice, a really hard choice. We have to say no to the thing that seems like such a no-brainer. We have to sacrifice financially. We have to make decisions that might hurt others even though we know it is the right thing to do.

I recently listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley that hit the nail on the head: God does not promise to deliver us from these circumstances, but he does promise to deliver us through them.

In my situation, we struggled for a few more months and then I got a job that I stayed in for 16 years. I worked with ethical attorneys who cared about the service they provided for their clients. I made decent money and was able to save for retirement. I had offers to go to bigger, richer firms, but I didn’t. When I decided I did not want to practice law anymore, I told my partners the truth: “I will not go to another law firm. I’m done practicing law.” I could tell them the truth because God had fortified me to do just this, starting way back in 1993 when I didn’t even think I believed in God.

What is the fork in the road for you? Are you choosing the right thing, and not just the easy thing?

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