Day in the life of
Lawyer – Brent Morgan
I practice primarily criminal defense and family law. This means I represents people accused of committing crimes and also handle divorces and child custody matters. As to criminal defense, some of my clients are in jail, which requires me to visit them as frequently as I can. The attorney-client room in most jails tends to be small, is difficult to communicate with the client, and provides insufficient workspace.
At the office, I prepare motions for clients, call prosecutors to get plea offers, review police reports, witness statements and body cam footage, and I try to keep track of the status of a high volume of cases. Prior to COVID, attendance was mandatory at a number of pre-trial hearings which meant I could spend an entire day at the courthouse. Now, hearings are held by Zoom. This can possibly mean instead of sitting at the courthouse that I am sitting at my desk staring at a computer.
As to family law, a lot of work is dealt with in hearings or preparing for those hearings, whether to obtain custody of a child for my client or obtain the property they want in the divorce. However, the primary responsibility is maintaining a professional and personal relationship with the client. A lot of people never saw themselves going through a divorce and need a lot of hand-holding and reassurance through the process. Communication with the client, whether by phone call, e-mail or a conference in my office, is the key part of the job.
As to both of these areas of law, my clients tend to be going through the most stressful event in their lives. As such, they take a good portion of their frustrations out at me when I cannot achieve their desired outcome. This tends to be the biggest disadvantage of the profession.
On the plus side, especially in regards to criminal defense, the stories are always interesting and never get old. It is rare to have a dull day.
- Confidence of knowing the legal system: Regardless of what kind of law a lawyer practices, that lawyer has a better understanding of how to handle any legal situation. With criminal defense and family law, I’m a little bit more certain with what is illegal, what to say if confronted by police, what is going on in any news story involving a crime, how to handle my assets and debts in my own marriage in case things take a turn for the worse, etc. While I may not be proficient in other areas of law, I have more self confidence in how to handle business transactions, personal injuries, insurance claims or contract disputes.
- The stories: Occasionally, I will have the chance to represent someone accused of committing a crime that is “high profile” for my local area. Knowing the real story beyond what the media can present to the public is a special privilege.
- The variety: Additionally, the facts of any incident as told by a police officer, a witness or my client can be literally jaw dropping. It makes it worth going to the office knowing each day will provide something different.
- Public speaking/courtroom appearances: Some attorneys find being in the courtroom a con. They hate it for a variety of reasons, as the pressures of litigation and public speaking are more than they can handle. I enjoy it. While fear always exists (like the anticipation that comes while a jury deliberates), it can be very exhilarating and rewarding. Trying to emulate the best attorneys, whether from TV or in real life, is a fun experience for any attorney who practices regularly in the courtroom.
- Working hours: I run my own law firm with my wife. However, some of the larger firms require its attorneys to work a shocking amount of billable hours each week. Being in private practice, however, does not mean I have to worry about billable hours but putting in all of the hours I need to put in for my clients plus the day to day tasks of running a business. For most attorneys, we never have the ability to “punch out” for the day.
- The unsatisfied clients: Unfortunately, every case has a winner and a loser. No client of mine ever expects or wants to be the loser. Sometimes, they are. Sometimes, they are not, but they feel like they are the loser because they did not get everything they wanted. For example, a client who committed a crime may feel like they deserve no punishment because “it’s their first offense”, “they know someone else who did the same thing and got their case dismissed”, or, my favorite, “it’s not like I killed someone” as if murder is the only punishable crime. A divorce client can be equally unsatisfied, particularly in a child custody dispute where the other parent got primary custody.
represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.