Next month I will have officially reached my twenty-fifth year of lawyering; the majority of those years were spent slogging through the litigation trenches as a state and federal public defender. These can be dark waters we lawyers swim in. We confront people at their lowest moments in life. We absorb trauma vicariously through our clients, their victims, and what can often feel like a dehumanizing, meat-grinder of a legal system. Yet, we labor on; we do what we can to take the hill and plant our flag of justice at the top. No matter what our area of practice, without some way to bring light to the darkness, the job can swallow us whole.
Many of us became lawyers thinking we could save the world. In so doing, we lost ourselves along the way. However, renowned author and professor Joseph Campbell, father of the “hero’s journey” teaches, “We’re not on our journey to save the world, but to save ourselves. But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” So, my question to you, dear brothers and sisters in arms, what are you doing to make yourself vital?
In choosing my career path, it was only ever going to be law school or film school. I love that I chose the law, but what I love more is that I found a way to combine my two great passions in life. I am now in my eighth year of practice as a “Documentarian at Law”. Never heard of such a thing? Well, there probably was never such a thing. And that’s ok. Sometimes you have to cut your own path and, take Prof. Campbell’s sage advice to, “follow your bliss.” In other words, story is how I saved myself, and now it is how I help lawyers save their clients.
The legal documentaries I make humanize our clients by giving decision-makers the opportunity walk a mile in their shoes. We dig deep and tell the true life stories that can turn what is often a sterile stack of black and white ink and paper in a file, into vivid color, connection, and understanding.
I’m grateful every day that I can engage with the law in a way that lifts people up and offers a glimmer of hope to the hopeless. I have been making these movies for almost two decades. For almost seven years now, I have been fully “following my bliss” having created what may be the only joint law firm and video production company in existence — and it has been a life-changing experience for me and for my clients.
As my comrades in the legal community hopefully take a well earned day off for Labor Day, I hope you will think about your own passions, how you may better be able to follow your own bliss, and how that will make you vital in your continued path as a legal warrior. Your clients will thank you, your quality of life will increase, and your ‘hero’s journey” will be epic.
If you would like to know more about legal documentaries (sentencing mitigation videos, civil day in the life videos, etc.) visit dougpassonlaw.com.
In the meantime, please share with us in the comments below, what you are doing or would like to do to “make yourself vital”?