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What attorneys did before automated calendar reminders on BlackBerries is beyond me. That is not to say their appearance is always a welcomed event, of course. Take this past Sunday, for example. It was 75 degrees and sunny, with low humidity. For those of you who live in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area, you can attest that this is a rare event indeed. As a result, work was pretty far from my mind when my “NLJ Column Due This Week” reminder magically appeared on my BlackBerry. Lying on lawn chairs in the afternoon sunshine with my older brother and sister-in-law, as we tried to recover from an earlier game of tennis, I floated a few ideas for a column with them. Nothing was really meshing, however, when my older brother seemingly came to the rescue. “Why don’t you write a column about why we never see you anymore, or what it’s like to have a sister who’s an attorney?” he suggested. “You can start the sentence, and I can finish it. It’ll be fun.” Maybe it was the margaritas we’d consumed, or the invitation to split the amount of effort required to complete my task, but I tentatively accepted. Once we established that he would be referred to as my “older brother” and not my “devastatingly handsome and shockingly clever older brother,” we got down to business. “ When you heard I was going to law school, your first thought was � Sweet, somebody to borrow money from. Followed quickly by, well, at least all of those years of us arguing will be put to good use.” “ We had a somewhat unique experience of living in the same small town during my third year of law school. Listening to my tales of woe that year � It was somewhat strange for me to realize that, unlike most graduate students who have the time, but not the money, you had no time and no money. It seemed to be a very different academic experience from my graduate degree. I worked hard, of course, but there was always time for kayaking trips too.” “ The parts about being an attorney that sounds appealing to you are � Knowing that your schooling is being applied every day. Working with bright and motivated people in a tight-knit group toward a common cause. A lot of what I do is solo projects, so the team aspect is particularly appealing. There’s also the obvious mentorship that goes on, where the upper ranks are actively trying to school the younger ranks to follow in their footsteps. And, of course, the financial freedom you have to fly to Montreal for the weekend whenever you choose. I don’t want to make this all about money, but, looking in, that’s a pretty obvious factor.” “ And the things about my job that don’t sound so appealing � Do you want that list alphabetically, or in order of priority? Okay, seriously. Caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation and the ridiculous multitasking at all hours of the day and on weekends. Not to mention the lack of brother-in-law and nieces and nephews. Weren’t there supposed to be three or four by now?” “ Er, moving on. If you had to hire an attorney you would � Do a careful cost-benefit analysis between billing rate and potential years in jail.” “ And if billing rates were not an issue � I would want an attorney who was hardworking, smart, had good communications skills, and was well-respected within the legal community. Of course, the irony is that every client probably wants those same things, which is why lawyers suffer from caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation, and excel at ridiculous multitasking.” “ If you could give one piece of advice from the other side to all the attorneys out there it would be � I think we’ve worked hard enough for a Sunday. Let’s fire up the barbeque.” “ Oh, that’s deep.“ “Why, thank you.” Amy J. McMaster is an associate in the environmental department at Venable LLP in Washington. Her practice focuses on both criminal defense and civil regulatory compliance.

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