This Saturday (February 9th, 2013) mark my 20th year of practice since my call to the Ontario Bar in 1993.
I could take up this post talking about my experiences—my noble victories and my ignoble defeats— and what I have learned over two decades of having the privilege of membership in what I still consider a noble profession.
I could do that, but I won’t.
Any victories are ephemeral and the defeats are emblazoned across my heart and incised into my psyche like a bad tattoo that no laser treatment can remove.
What I will share with any young lawyers who may chance upon this blawg and read this post, is one bit of advice I received early on; when I was struggling as a sole practitioner, wondering where I would find any clients to pay for the office rent and a shared legal secretary.
The advice can from, unexpectedly, opposing counsel, a more senior lawyer named David Payne on a case that turned out to be a waste of my client’s time and mine. When I asked him what it was like to be a solo after ten years of practice, he told me about his “3 Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday When You Wake Up in The Morning”:
1. What will I do today that will make me money today?
2. What will I do today that will make me money in a month?
3. What will I do today that will me me money in a year?
To this I have added:
4. What will I do every single day to establish and maintain my reputation and to serve my clients, diligently, competently and ethically?
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
~Warren Buffett (1930–), US entrepreneur and financier (Source: Quoted in the Independent (London) (October 28, 2009))
As an aside, I received a lovely email this morning from American Registry — the plaque flawging arm of Martindale-Hubbell— that read as follows:
Happy Anniversary Antonin I. Pribetic,
In 1993, you swore an oath and were admitted to the Bar. On the 20th Anniversary of that proud occasion, your efforts and service since that day are worthy of recognition. Congratulations.
Commemorate your anniversary with this specially designed premium quality, personalized plaque. You worked hard to gain admission to the Bar. Share your pride with those who have helped you make the most of your professional career: your family, your clients and your colleagues.
Click to your custom web page where you can edit your plaque, try out different wood colors and place your order.
OR: Prefer to be invoiced? Simply reply to this email with “Yes, please invoice me.” Include your billing and shipping information and we’ll get your plaque shipped to you right away. You will be invoiced $159 plus $12.90 S&H.
Call me with any questions. I am available from 9am to 6pm EST, Monday through Friday. I hope to hear from you – the plaque is beautiful!
American Registry, LLC
Ironically, if you read the boilerplate recital it states that “I do solemnly swear to support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States; …”
Well, no, as I recall swearing an oath to Her Majesty the Queen to similar effect.
Here’s a really cruddy photo of my Law Society of Upper Canada certificate:
But I do swear to uphold the Rule of Law and to fight Injustice, however you define it and wherever it rears its ugly head…including when the President of the United States of America forgets that he also swore this same oath and yet continues to flaunt international law through the Executive Branch’s policy of unjustified targeted drone killing of Americans overseas.