A Day in the Life of an Attorney

Attorney Friends


A day in my life is nothing like what you’ve seen on Law and Order, How to Get Away with Murder, or the Good Wife. It is not showing up in a perfectly tailored suit, delivering academy award worthy closing arguments to a jury, or negotiating high profile agreements in a fancy boardroom. This may be the life of some lawyers, but mine is a bit different.

Some may think simple means boring or dull, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a litigation associate in Monroe County — more specifically Woodsfield, Ohio — which to many is a small town they pass through in the blink of an eye. However, this year Woodsfield became my home and where I decided to start my legal career. This has been a great choice for me personally and professionally.

Many of my law school colleagues stayed in the big cities and are those lawyers wearing the perfectly tailored suits. In contrast, I often wear a pair of black jeans, a comfortable blouse, and flats (heels aren’t my thing). Again, to many people, this may not seem glamorous, but to me, it is a perfect fit.

I was sworn in as a lawyer in November 2017. During this short time, I have learned that glamour does not lie in what you wear or where you practice but in who you are able to serve, and how you are able to serve them.

When I was asked to write this post, it was supposed to be on “A Day in the Life of an Attorney.” However, there is no typical day for me or any lawyer. Yes, each day there is writing, researching, returning emails, but no day is the same or typical. So, when I sat down to write this I had no idea where to begin. The place I kept coming back to was our clients and the community we serve. It made me realize that those are the two things that guide my day as a lawyer.

This made me start to think about the many different communities lawyers serve around the world. Each one of these communities guides the day of each one of those lawyers. Each one serves different communities and different needs and each one brings its own joys, challenges, and surprises.

This is something lawyers don’t always think about when deciding where to practice. Usually, the thought at the forefront is “Who will hire me and give me enough money to help pay my student loans?” Although practical (and sometimes necessary) this thought should not be the only one guiding a lawyer on where to practice. It is important to ask yourself, “What do I want my days to look like?”

The answer to this question for me was to help people. Then I started thinking, “Ok, good job Marianne, you stated the same thing every student graduating from law school wants.” I started to delve a bit deeper. I realized that when I first started law school I had dreams of working at a big firm in a big city, and wearing chic suits every day (hopefully an all-white pantsuit like Olivia Pope in Scandal), and basking in all the prestige that goes along with landing a position at a big firm. However, at the end of those three years, I felt very different.

I realized a big firm in a big city was actually the farthest thing from what I wanted (shhh…I do still want the all-white pantsuit). I realized what I wanted was to not have hundreds of clients but a few clients I knew well and could give my full attention to. I wanted to have actual friendships with my colleagues. I wanted to be able to take on cases I thought would be doing good and not just ones that went to the highest bidder. I wanted a community I could become a part of. I wanted to be an attorney, and also a good neighbor in the community.

The answer to my question on where to practice came in the most unlikely of places for a girl living in Houston, Texas. It came in the form of Woodsfield, Ohio, and boy am I glad that it did. My days are centered around clients I know well and get to give my full attention to. I have friendships with all my colleagues, and there hasn’t been one case yet I haven’t felt like my priority was to do “good” in the figurative sense. I may not be rocking my all-white pantsuit, but I am able to serve the people of Southeastern Ohio and that is glamorous enough for me.


Marianne Smithberger

Attorney At Law

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