I liked this Forum article (subscription) from last Monday's Daily Journal. Former Orange County Superior Court Judge William Scheffield is very enthusiastic about the legal profession, particularly litigation, as a calling. He also articulates an interesting perspective on the advocate's role:
Some may say law is a science and a litigator a scientist. Don't believe them. What happens in the courtroom is art, not science. A litigator is an artist, a sculptor. Who wins in the courtroom depends on which litigator can best shape the perspective of the decision maker. A litigator's job is to sculpt the perspective of the juror or judge in a way that harmonizes with his or her side of the case by leading the juror back in time - recreating the past, weaving facts and law in a way leading toward his or her client's perspective. The difference between science and art is that in science - take mathematics - two plus two is always four. A good litigator might argue it's five. Litigation is about shaping perspective using the artistry of persuasion. Getting at "truth" requires you taking the juror or judge as you recreate and reshape the past - without instant replay, video or crystal ball and, not to be pejorative, spin. I tell litigants that there really is no "truth" in the courtroom, only perspective. This makes the courtroom risky business. With good lawyers on each side sculpting the past, what begins for the client as a black-and-white, dead-bang winner turns to gray when the spinning is spun. There are two certainties in the courtroom: You don't know what's going to happen, and whatever does happen will be expensive.