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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 37: The Defense Rests (and takes a coffee break)

Week 37: The Defense Rests (and takes a coffee break)

How many lawyer jokes are out there? That’s probably like asking, “Which came first; the chicken or the egg?” or “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” My point is, pretty much everyone makes fun of lawyers in some way. However, I learned today that not all lawyers are stereotypical of the jokes. In fact, the majority of the attorneys here in Cleveland and Bradley County are actually very competent (even if they charge you half a leg for doing their job), and they take pride in their work, no matter what the case, situation, or person. How do I know this? Because today, I was able to spend the day with Joe Byrd, a local attorney and current professor at Lee.

Joe at WorkDad put me on the spot to start the day when he dropped me off at professor Byrd’s classroom a half hour after the class began. Apparently, Joe didn’t know the exact day that I was supposed to meet with him, so he thought that I was just a regular student visiting his class. I quickly made it clear that I was 13, and I was not transferring to his class (for some reason, a lot of people think that I’m in college. Maybe I should shave more often :)). Professor Byrd was at the moment lecturing his students about different aspects of the judicial system, such as some of the rights a prisoner has, why some criminals aren’t allowed bail, and things like that. It was the best lecture I’ve ever heard (and also the first I’ve heard too), and after it was over, I made sure to tell him that. He still didn’t know who I was, but I soon informed him of that little detail. After an “Oh! It was today?”, we quickly got sorted out, and we commenced with our day. Dr. Byrd informed me that we would be heading to a County Commission meeting soon, where I would be able to see what county government is really like. In the meantime, Joe introduced me to his wife, who works in the same office as he does, and grabbed a few essential things that he needed for the meeting. At the get-together of all the commissioners from the various districts, the first thing they did was to pray and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then they brought up the latest agenda. In between calling the roll nine different times, the board briefly discussed a few controversial issues, mentioned the various things that were going on in their personal district, and presented an award to a local business owner. I would have taken pictures, but I was sitting with Joe, and I wasn’t allowed.

After the board meeting was over with, Dr. Byrd showed me around the building. In each different department, Dr. Joe would introduce me to the workers there and explained what their jobs were in that section. It took a couple of hours to finish the tour of just the one building. And then we repeated the process with the second edifice. I probably lost a couple pounds just from all of the walking I did. However, I did enjoy myself, and I got a feel for the incredibly complicated process that takes place every day in our county government offices. Plus, I met a few hundred interesting people along the way.

Both Joe and I were hungry after our little excursion, and we were going to eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant, but Joe’s wife (who was to accompany us) wasn’t feeling well, so we walked down the block to Gardner’s Market and ate there. I ordered a gyro and a cherry muffin, and despite the sound, it was delicious. While we were still eating, one of the chairmen that had been at the meeting walked in, and he and Dr. Byrd talked for the remainder of the meal. It actually wasn’t until Dr. Joe and I walked back to his office that I was able to talk with him for a sustained period of time. I started, as always, with my questions. I brought to his attention the fact that the stereotypical attorney is a cheater, a liar, and a crook with a fin on his back. I wanted to know if the majority of lawyers are like that. Joe replied that the aforementioned type of lawyers are the bottom feeders of the law, only in it for the money. However, the main part of attorneys, at least the ones he knows, are honest, righteous men who believe that God has called them to practice law. My next question was if he could begin his life all over again, would he become a private attorney, a judge, or stay a county lawyer like he is now. He said that he likes where he is now, because it touches so many different aspects of the county. However, they all have their merits. For instance, judges get to write opinions, read statements, and (obviously) hear cases. Private lawyers can hire themselves out more or less wherever they want, and if you’re defending the accused, it pays really good money.

The office of an atorneyAnother thing I asked was how one goes about getting themselves into law. He said that first, you have to attend law school, which is really vigorous (when he was there, only a third of the class passed). Also, a big part of moving up in the judicial system is learning to ask questions. If you don’t do that, you won’t get anywhere. He said that a person has to be “unafraid to ask questions that are ‘stupid'”, because you can never grow if you live in that type of fear. My last query was if he ever pays any attention or get irritated by lawyer jokes (hey, you knew this was coming). He laughed and said that it all comes back to the types of lawyers the people are talking about. An attorney just has to thicken up his skin and deal. However, secretly, deep in the chambers of their council, the higher end of lawyers tell lawyer jokes as well. After hearing that, without further ado, I immediately (guess what?) told Dr. Joe my newest lawyer joke. Of course, he laughed.

Dr. Joe ByrdDr. Byrd dropped me off at Dad’s workplace to end our time together, and I think that both of us regretted the fact that our day had to end so soon. With everything that I had been taught today, my head was buzzing with information about the judicial system, and I was seriously considering a career in law. Not that I want to drop everything and attend law school, mind you, but an attorney’s job seems pretty interesting and enjoyable. You can help uphold the county’s just front, while making sure that no guilty man is set free while you’re on the case. Plus, if you do your job well, you’ll get to hear a good deal of the best lawyer jokes in the world.

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