by Andra Turner
I am a longtime paralegal at Adelman Hirsch & Connors, which I believe is one of the finest personal injury firms in Connecticut. We relentlessly prepare every case for trial, even though there is a 90% chance it never sees a courtroom. This ensures we get the best results for our clients. We spend enormous amounts of time talking with our clients to learn about who they are and the true cost of their loss and/or injury to them and their families. Most of the time, I love what I do.
What can get lost in the busy days is that there is a personal price to pay for anyone who works in the personal injury field. There are a thousand little traumas.
Every client is someone’s child or sibling, friend, or parent. Every client has had an impact on the lives of others. You cannot sit and cry with a client over their deceased child, and not have it affect how you let your own child move through the world. You cannot avoid seeing the fears of people who, due to a personal injury, can no longer support their family. You cannot have family members tell you about their parent who was killed because of medical malpractice and not have it impact your relationship with your own elderly parent. You cannot un-see the scene photos, the injury photos, and in some cases, the autopsy photos. You cannot un-hear the desperate 911 calls. You cannot un-read the eulogies. You listen to the client who whispers the unimaginable pain of knowing they can never physically hold their grandbaby.
To best serve your client, this field of law requires you to absorb your clients’ pain, process it, and still carry on.
My job has caused me to move through the world differently. I see the unmarked hazards around me: poor travel conditions, an upturned sidewalk, bad and dangerous product designs which could have easily been remedied if those who made it did so with a little more thought or care, or the rapidly changing medical community which now spends more time creating and re-creating computerized medical records than actually listening to a patient. My job has caused me to take daily leaps of faith that the injuries and tragedies experienced by our clients will not happen to me or my loved ones. It has been a challenge to raise children who see the dangers I see but are not pre-occupied by them in the way I am.
In my experience, I have learned that excellence in the personal injury field can cause emotional burnout if we are not careful. We need to create emotional buffers so we can decompress. We need to take mental breaks to nurture ourselves so when we are working, we can always be present for our clients. When I have an emotionally-draining session with a client, I may spend the next day doing less emotionally invested tasks, such as working on a monotonous spreadsheet, just to create a mental separation from that client’s pain.
Despite all of this, I cannot imagine working in a different field. My job checks all the boxes of what I love, even if it comes at a price.