When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer – Albert Camus
Recently, I was asked if my being a rural solo practitioner was because I saw the practice of law as a vocation. After all, wouldn’t there have to be something more behind the decision to invent many tens of thousands of dollars into a legal education and then to invest even more starting a solo practice that, by its very focus cannot be expected to generate even half the income of the career I left behind. I found it strange to be faced with a question I had once asked a lawyer whose career was spent in public law and was amazed by how difficult a question it is to answer.
Vocation, from the Latin vocare (to call), brings with it a sense of the divine – that one is provide with gifts and talents uniquely suited to a specific purpose. While it seems quite a stretch to make any claim to divine inspiration as the impetus to charge down this particular career path and I’m fairly sure that a willingness to argue with a rock or having the elephant child’s curiosity are talents uniquely suited solely to the practice of law, the question itself goes a bit deeper than simple asking if I had experienced a divine call.
Perhaps, there is something more to my decision than simply exploiting an unfilled niche in the legal biome, after all my pre-law school goal had been to be an employee working for a substantial law firm, or at the very least doing substantial things. Providing simple bread and butter transactional law for rural families was not even on my radar at that time. Some where along the path from the disillusionment of OCI to the practicalities of real world solo practice I found that my practice was paralleling my moral & spiritual compass. Perhaps I was listening to that small, quiet voice within or perhaps I was simply following the path of least stress but I had never questioned the direction until my questioner asked me to reflect on practice as vocation.
I am afraid that I did not provide a very satisfactory answer to the question – but upon reflection, neither did that public law attorney. Whether it is vocation, a marketing ploy, or simply my way to manage work-life balance, I practice where and how I do because it fits me and I fit it, and at the end of the day, I can say I did good & had fun doing it.
To my readers I ask – how would you respond to my questioner?