Michael McGrory of SmithAmundsen took some time to answer a few of our questions.
What do you like the most and the least about being a lawyer?
There are many great things about being a lawyer. Probably the thing I like most is helping people resolve their thorniest problems. As a trial attorney, clients almost always come to me with bad news — either they have been sued, they are afraid of being sued, or they are thinking of suing. It is very rewarding to be the one a person trusts in such circumstances. A close second, I would say, is winning. Winning a trial, an appeal, an important motion, even a key admission in a deposition, can be exhilarating; about the most exhilarating thing your typical English major like me could hope for in a career.
The worst thing about being a lawyer is, without a doubt, keeping track of time and billing.
What do you know now that you wish you knew as a new lawyer?
Don’t be intimidated by more experienced opponents. You’ve got a job to do, and clients relying on you. As long as you’ve adequately prepared, and know the facts and the law, you should be confident in your position. As soon as your opponent starts citing his or her years of experience instead of the facts or law, you’ve won.
How has your practice changed?
I began my practice right around the time BlackBerrys became ubiquitous, but I began at the state’s attorney’s office, where only a select few even had pagers. So, of course, the connectivity to the office and others has increased dramatically. Many malign the constant access, but I have often found the ability to communicate immediately with partners, associates and clients to be a benefit.
Another significant change, this one more personal to my practice, is the way I spend my workday. When I first started practicing, with the state’s attorney’s office, most of every day was spent in court. There was little time, and little need, to do much in-depth legal writing. Now, in private civil practice, it seems as if I spend most of every day outside of court and the time I spend preparing, studying and writing has increased exponentially. I feel very fortunate to have gotten comfortable in a courtroom early on, because knowing what happens there is very helpful when you have to write a brief or prepare an argument.