The “L” WordPosted by Scott Taylor
THE “L” WORD
Just what do you do for a living?
It’sone of the first routine questions asked whenever two strangers meet for the
first time. It’s about as basic and uncomplicated as it gets.
“What do you do for a living?”
But it’s also a question that causes me all sorts of anxiety.
Considering the negative reputation of lawyers these days (has there ever been a time when
lawyers weren’t ridiculed and the subject of some really funny jokes?) ranking somewhere
between politicians (mostly lawyers – not helping) and used car salespeople
(unfair to (most) salespeople) I hesitate to acknowledge that I’m a lawyer.
After all, I’ve already heard all the jokes, (including the ones about the
rats/sharks/ lawyers, etc.)
So rather than just use the “L” word I could mention that I’m a “family lawyer”.
While a “family lawyer” sounds warm and fuzzy, it’s really just a nicer way to say
that you’re a paid mercenary ( ie divorce lawyer) whose task is to achieve
legal victory for your client, and somehow emerge victorious despite the
incredible costs and related emotional trauma.
Besides, chances are ( better than 50%) that the person I’m talking to has either
experienced the ordeal of separation or divorce as an adult, or endured a
miserable childhood as the pawn of an archaic, and confrontational family law
system of justice.
Who do you know who has any kind of fond memories of their divorce, or their
Of course, I could try and soften the “L” word by mentioning that I’m also a trained
and qualified “collaborative divorce lawyer”. That’s a lawyer who’s also
trained as a mediator, and commits to supporting their clients by attempting to
resolve outstanding matrimonial matters through good faith negotiation (ie
collaboration) with opposing counsel, rather than litigation.
But frankly “collaborative divorce lawyer” actually only sounds as oxymoronic as
The consequence of which would no doubt be a bewildered look to what is otherwise a
simple and straightforward question.
All of which explains my standard response whenever I’m asked what I do for a
“I’m looking for work, what do you do for a living?”