Saturday, January 29, 2011

Integrity can be costly

Before I became a lawyer, I tried to do the right thing. Now that I am a lawyer I am bound to do the right thing. (I can hear the collective snickers and guffaws!) It was costly then, and it’s still costly. Even more so now that five other people are affected by my choices. Costly, in that the crowd goes the way you know is wrong, and you go the right way, often alone. But, I’m not really alone. God is with me. I had to leave a job, but He immediately replaced it. There will be a gap in income, (a costly part), but greater rewards with this next position to make up for what I just gave up.

Prior to law school I would have outlined the entire ordeal, here. After law school, not a word. I will only discuss the lessons learned, and vent to enable me to move on.
People who do wrong, will harangue, cajole, criticize, berate, commit slander, and try to shame you into following them. It takes a strong stomach to withstand the pressure. Staying strong can cost you your reputation, friends, and supporters. Unfortunately, trying to tell your side of the story can backfire. But, when you stand silent, you often stand alone.
Learning to stay strong in alone takes time and experience. When given the choice between my self-respect and money, I have learned to choose my self-respect. Which is why I’m poor, now!  Not saying that rich people, or people with money have no self-respect, just saying that’s been my life’s trajectory.  My late father never sat me down to impart life’s lessons to me. He just lived his values, and in turn imparted them to his children. I believe I have done the same, because my children often “check” me when I stray!

I’m reeling from an event that took place this week, a result of my determination to do what I knew was right, not what I was told to do, which would have been troublesome for me later. (I have been thrown under the bus too many times to willingly take a hit for anyone to whom I have not given birth.) I know I can be considered a difficult employee to some, because I will not do anything illegal, unethical or just plain stupid. It’s a miracle I haven’t been fired for insubordination. A clue that I should be self-employed.

Hopefully, my tolerance for poverty will keep me out of trouble with the State Bar. A good majority of lawyers get in trouble for ethics violations because of money. Reportedly, they make poor choices for the sake of a dollar. To date that hasn’t been a problem for me. With this latest episode it’s still not a problem. I pray that when I’m fully practicing it will continue to not be a problem. I pray that when I’m a fully practicing lawyer my propensity to do the right thing in the face of intense opposition will be what makes me, not just a good lawyer, but a great one.

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