The Lawyerwriter

This blog is called the lawyer writer. I'm not quite sure why I chose the name, because I rarely talk about law and only sometimes about being a lawyer.

I came upon the interesting realization that I've spent the last three trying to have as little to do with law as possible. If had my way, I would have left the firm, started writing novels, and never looked back. Instead, it's been a slow hard progression away from law, towards writing, but, in a Godfather-like way, law keeps pulling me back in.

Okay, so maybe the mob analogy is a little melodramatic. But I remember feeling like law was the wrong idea for me about three years before I actually left. And when I left, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. This elicits many responses from inside and outside my head:

The Mob: "You can't really leave the law, can you? After you put so much in?"

The Army: "You just couldn't hack it, could you? Weren't tough enough."

The Cult: "But everyone wants you to be a lawyer."

The Parents: "You'll go back. You will. Really."

Now, the most obvious question is--why? What exactly am I running from? I spent three years studying, two years practicing and I wrote a book about it. I did okay. I didn't hate all of it. So why am I hell-bent on carving on being writer rather than lawyerwriter?

I don't want to write a courtroom drama or expose of law firms. I looked into true crime. They specifically asked for "stories of middle class men with double lives that explode in murder." I am not making this up. But I don't read about the law. I can't stand Grisham, and I really dislike Linda Fairstein. Intensely. Basically, television does this much better now, if you like the courtroom stuff. Most episodes of Law and Order (the original, and Criminal Intent) are much better than anything I've found in the bookstore. They have finer legal points, more newsworthy scenarios, and better courtroom surprises. There are some great legal movies, but Law and Order really broke the mold. So I could go work in television, writing Law and Order shows, which might be fun.

I could be a paralegal just to earn some cash, instead of writing full time. Or, preferably, I could set my hair on fire.

I did write The Street Law Handbook. I hadn't planned on it. I'd planned on agenting it, but I didn't know if I had enough of a background in criminal law to write it. But then I started getting so many ideas of how I wanted it to be, and what I wanted it to cover, that I starting outlining it. And, except for a very brief, extraordinarily unfortunate few months where I had a partner (a real criminal lawyer long on ego but very short on ability), I enjoyed writing it very much. I learned more about criminal law than I'd known as a lawyer.

And that, actually, was all I planned on doing in terms of legal writing. No blog, no sequel, no legal writing to pay the bills, or anything like that. I figured that once you get published, you'd sort of entered the elite club of authors, and that was that. And I would go as far as my talent would take me. And then I would quit and write my memoirs. Preferably in my eighties, in Paris with a 20-year old lover. Who cooks.

Anyway, back to the point. Why did I want to ditch the law thing entirely, without making use of it to pay the bills?

There's the faux-rebellious reason: I rejdct law and the corporate world. I want no part of office life. I hate suits, and really hate pantyhose.

There's the logical reason: I'm a writer. I was only a lawyer for five years, but I've been writing since I was ten. All I studied, besides law, was literature. But the law degree seems to what I'm defined by--branded by, in a way--because it's a profession.

There's the insecurity reason: I'm not sure exactly what having a law degree has taught me. I liked studying it, but the practice is just awful. And I don't even know if I'm any good at it.

There's the honest reason: The law degree, and everything that went along with it, isn't nearly as interesting as writing and publishing.

There's the defensive reason: I'm afraid that if I'm lawyerwriter today, that's all I'll be writing tomorrow. Courtrooms and corporate boardrooms--that's all they'll want from me.

But lately I've started to think--what if I really could find a way to use the law degree without practicing, and without having all my books be about law? Someone suggested legal marketing, or writing for public relation firms that specialize in law firms and legal entities. Of course, I haven't done much public relations writing, but it might be fun. It might even pay the bills.

So I'm doing some investigation into this. If anyone knows anything--or has any thoughts on why some ex-lawyers run screaming from their law degrees, instead of using them, I'd like to hear them.