There is a place you have to go when there is as much on the line as there is in a serious felony criminal trial. It can be a dark and lonely place. No matter the support from family, friends, or anyone else, you're out there on the ledge by yourself. A lot of times even your client is adversarial. No one in that courtroom wants you to win. So you adjust your mindset. For me, it entails channeling anger and arrogance--convincing myself that I am the best at what I do, that the prosecution is foolish to try and match me. Some trial lawyers I know have an almost Zen approach. They are able to achieve calm amidst the storm. That doesn't work for me.
But there's a price that comes with that mindset, especially for those close to me. I'm by nature arrogant and self-assured--have been since I was a kid. I'm not good at being warm and understanding. That's hard enough for the people who care about me during the lulls. When I'm in trial, those characteristics take over almost entirely, and I am no fun to be around. At some level, I know that. But I am powerless to stop it. No, that's bullshit. Of course I could stop it. I choose not to, and simply hope that those I love will understand. It's a lot to ask. And there's an internal toll to be paid too. You go into the dark too often, sometimes it's hard to come back. As I get older, it gets tougher to recover. It's why I've taken to working out harder in the last year or two than I have since my early twenties. There's a saying among those of us who do murder and mayhem cases that every lawyer has a number stamped in their brain. That number is the number of trials you have in you. No one knows in advance what that number is. But when you reach that number, it's time to get out. The trick is recognizing when that number hits.
But enough of the "woe is me". As I've said before, I do this because, at heart, I love it. I chose it, and I wouldn't do anything else. Time to strap on the guns and see what happens. As the Boss says:
"Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop
I'll be on that hill with everything I got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town"