Until courts embrace casual Friday and jean-shirt Tuesday, don’t count on the legal stress factor easing up. Prosecutors have to prepare, prepare, prepare all their cases for trial because they don’t know which ones will end in a plea agreement, and which ones are just curious to see who are their peers. Defense attorneys don’t have to carry the burden of proof, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to carry the burden of the defendant. Criminal defendants and law-fearing clients want to talk to their attorneys all the time to find out what’s going on with one of the attorney’s dozens of cases, or just to find out if blowing a .20 is a bad thing. Then there’s being in an actual trial, which is an experience somewhere along the continuum of sunbathing on the beach and finding yourself pitted against lions in a Roman coliseum.
Attorneys handle stress in various ways. Just take a look at what you’ll find in the criminal justice lawyer’s survival kit: one smartphone; one banker’s box labeled, “Trials”; one fold-out dolly; one combination book of Late to Court Excuses and “I’ll Get Back to You on That” and Other Client Promises You Forgot to Keep; one novelty postcard of the justices of the Supreme Court as the heads of the dogs playing poker; five 1,000 ml IV bags of espresso shots; and one prescription Adderall, twice renewable.