“[A] man may live greatly in the law as well as elsewhere; that there as well as elsewhere his thought may find its unity in an infinite perspective; that there as well as elsewhere he may wreak himself upon life, may drink the bitter cup of heroism, may wear his heart out after the unattainable.” (Holmes, Oliver Wendell, “Profession of the Law,” Speeches, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1913, p. 23.)
Every man and woman fortunate enough to try cases for a living knows on some level the truth of Holmes’s words. Whether we stumbled into it, or aimed for it since high school or earlier, those of us who practice litigation and try cases to jurys are some of the luckiest people on earth. We get to stretch our skills in writing, speaking, persuading, understanding, intuiting, leading, following, combating, discovering, creating, serving, loving, and forgiving–the essence of being human–in the service of championing the cause of others, who are more or less desperate for a champion. To be able to hone our skills and nurture our spirits in the service of this profession is an honor and a joy we should recognize and regularly remind ourselves of. Yes, men and women may live greatly in the law. If we can face and engage the challenges of this work, while at the same time remaining mindful of the special privilege our work offers us to live fully and deeply, we will approach the greatness that this profession can provide.