After a meeting with a client last week, my client asked, “You really are passionate about this—how did you get started?”

I thought for a moment and responded that I was 10 years old when I knew what I wanted to do. I lived in a town of about 70,000 people in upstate New York and there was a wonderful courthouse in the town’s center.

My mother worked in that courthouse for years and had many friends who still worked there. Every now and then she would visit.

One afternoon, she took me along to visit. We went upstairs to the courtroom and she asked to stay there for a few minutes and that she would be right back. In those days, you could actually leave your child in a public building and never worry that he or she would be snatched. So, I waited. There was no one, but me, in the courtroom for five minutes. Then, my life changed. It was one pm and court was coming back in session from the lunch break. I saw men coming into the courtroom, breathing heavily. They looked rumpled, with cups of coffee in their hands and cigarettes dangling from their mouths.

They had a lingering smell, as they ran past, and it was not the smell of a healthful green smoothie! (I realized, a few years later, it was the smell of Kentucky bourbon).

These men raced to their desks, their briefcases overflowing with papers, and threw the papers on the table. Then, the magic began.

Another man in a black robe entered from a side room and another man shouted that court was now in order.

Twelve men and women came in and seated themselves.

Those rumpled, tobacco-and-booze-smelling-lawyers rose from their desks, and became ballerinas. Their deep voices filled the courtroom and everyone watched, in awe.  They walked around pointing and talking, so articulately.

I watched in amazement and thought to myself, with no hesitation, I want to be them.

I was attracted to their passion—they loved what they did, and so do I.

As I figured out, at the age of 10, if you really love what you do, it’s not work. It’s a calling and a passion. This is what I tell young lawyers.

Take my advice for what it is…It’s just, AS I SEE IT!