Denver Bar Association
May 2003
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From the Headlands

by Paul Gordon
from the YLD's e-newsletter

I was one of the biggest kids in school, when I was in the fifth grade. In one week, I knocked out two baby teeth in two fights. After both fights, I sobbed.

Something about the release of all emotional restraint, I suspect. I can count on one or so hands the number of times I have lost my temper in my capacity as a lawyer—once or twice at a boss, a couple of times at a paralegal, a few more times at opposing counsel. Until recently, however, I had never lost my temper at a client. She pushed my buttons. I haven’t sobbed, but I have suffered through the sick feeling of knowing I was out of line. Worse, I have lost my self-righteous aloofness and the belief people hire me because I keep my cool under pressure.

By the time I was in the seventh grade, I figured I was the only kid in school who stopped growing in the fifth grade. In the locker room, a couple of track teammates relieved me of the sense of being haunted by my past. I knew someone was going to get even with me. I was glad when it finally happened. Perhaps all anger is normal, even healthy, but all behavior is not.

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