“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” ~Benjamin Franklin. Our culture has embraced this somewhat sardonic notion with a smirk and a wince. It evinces two unpleasant thoughts, neither of which evokes a sense of security, but rather a dismal certainty and unfortunate reality. Before this semester, I’ve never given the quote much more than a passing thought. Recently, however, it kept resurfacing in my mind; the more I pondered it, I came to appreciate that, for me, the “certainty” is actually a form of security, job security that is.
Two of my courses this term are: Basic Federal Income Tax and Wills, Trusts and Estates. I hesitate to say that I have chosen my practice area, yet I am leaning towards Estate Planning. Death and taxes are two subjects that most people don’t like to think about, especially when it is their own, yet they each can have a tremendous negative impact on the family left behind when ignored. One element of Estate Planning which appeals to me is the counseling nature of this practice. To be able to walk with someone through their vision for the final disposition of their assets and to create a plan which effectuates that vision, strikes me as both an immense privilege and responsibility. It is a practice which involves a great deal of creativity, sensitivity and precision. More fundamentally, Estate Planning is a practice which gets at the very core of what being a lawyer means to me, a “Counselor.” Lawyering is principled on the duties of the lawyer as a fiduciary for the client, and this is transcendent across all areas of practice. Whether or not I go this route, my career will be enhanced and secure by focusing on this recurring theme in my classes and research. For now, I appreciate knowing that as long as there remain death and taxes, there will be a need for lawyers; I feel good about the odds and there is certainty/security in that.