If I sometimes (OK, always) seem a bit jaundiced about my career, my feelings are from time to time reinforced in a particularly funny way. Two instances:
I was making a court appearance with my client in tow, along with her husband and his attorney, a high-profile member of the criminal defense bar (trust me, you've heard of him) who very occasionally dabbles in matrimonial law. (We'll call him Mr. X). Mr. X and I proceeded to fill out some required forms at the counsel table, while our respective clients seethed at one another from opposite ends of the courtroom. Mr. X glanced back at his client over his shoulder, then turned to me and muttered, "Trying a death penalty case is less stressful than this." I raised my eyebrows, and he explained, "the death penalty clients are in JAIL -- they can't call you seven times a day." He had a point . . .
Many years ago I was representing a woman, a fellow attorney who worked in the sex crimes unit of one of the local District Attorneys' offices. We were working on her financial statement, and I asked some routine question about her monthly budget or the current balance of her checking account or whatever, and she burst into tears. "How can you do this for a living?" she sobbed. I have never forgotten that someone who spent her professional life interviewing rape victims thought that I had a distasteful job.