Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Labor Law: Work Lawyers Do On the Way to their Calling and What it Means.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 6, 2010

No. 504

John Grisham recounts in the New York Times today a series of backbreaking and mind-breaking jobs he performed on his way to becoming a trial lawyer and then an author. These involved such joyful work as laying asphalt  on Mississippi roads in the summer and crawling under houses to find plumbing leaks. When he made a deliberate decision to get indoors (selling men’s underwear at Sears) he found himself still dissatisfied.  The search lead him to law school. His initial goal to practice tax law was scrapped after he took the course. He chose the court room and found himself representing the indigent for little money in the days before public defenders came to Mississippi. Finally, lack of satisfaction and financial success as a litigator and then a state legislator brought him to his ultimate career as a writer of legal thrillers.  After this long journey to get away from hard labor, he admits, writing is the hardest job of all.

His story, while atypical,  is not that unusual.  Nearly all of us have done real physical labor for a living or at least for money in our younger days.  Some have even been forced to interrupt careers.  I once spoke to a young lawyer who had been laid off at a law firm and  had undertaken months of work as a dog groomer. He told me he returned to the practice of law with a new perspective.

On the upside, there are always opportunities in these adventures to learn something useful. And it just so happens that law, which is about everything, provides the perfect vehicle to employ insight and even skills earned by the sweat of the brow. Grisham did.  He was a better lawyer and then a better writer for enduring all that.  And if he had not had the character to change and change again, not once or twice, but multiple times, he would never have developed the stamina to win a hard case or to endure the lonely agony of writing a long novel.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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