the Zealous

11 Apr 24

Viktor Ovsyannikov has been practicing law as a public defender since 2018 with the Free Legal Aid Centre in Kyiv. He characterizes his career choice as "addicting," and one that causes his mother to occasionally "drink buckets of sedatives."

One of his first clients was the disgraced ex-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, accused of treason in absentia. Yanukovych had retained five lawyers, but they left the session in protest. As a consequence, the criminal court asked the Free Legal Aid Center for a state-funded lawyer to protect the defendant’s rights.

Ovsyannikov was posted. He describes the experience: “The [Center] never gives the client's name first. They say you have an appointment for the defense tomorrow at 9 am. 'We'll send you the file and you'll see.' When I saw [that it was the Yanukovych case] my sleep vanished just like that." (Yanukovych was sentenced to a 13-year prison term for high treason, and is now living in exile in Russia.)

Like most Ukrainians, Ovsyannikov recalls with vivid detail the events of his life on February 24, 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

31 Mar 24

Many lawyers are. In fact, ours is the loneliest of professions.

Here's an explanation for why.

Personality may play a part. Lawyers are overwhelmingly introverts. Introverts often require more solitude for “recharging.” Add that to a heavy workload that values independence and perfection and there may be little time to build meaningful relationships. Also, lawyers rarely know how to practice self-care. Those serving at-risk and traumatized populations often don’t know how to deal with the emotions they hear of and often take on themselves. This vicarious trauma can lead some,  motivated by a concern about burdening others, to keep their struggles to themselves, thereby creating even more distance between them and their sources of support.

Employers have the specter of their lawyers not only in precarious health but also dispensing legal advice while in a debilitated state. Liability on a number of fronts raises its ugly head, as well as the costs and difficulty of replacing burnt-out workers.

10 Mar 24

On this day 102 years ago, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a lawyer with serious mojo, was arrested and charged with sedition for leading a campaign of mass civil disobedience against the British in India. After years of frequent arrests and imprisonments in his campaign for independence from British rule, Gandhi, nicknamed "Mahatma," meaning, the "great-souled one," appeared without counsel in the Ahmedabad court before a British judge. He pled guilty to all charges and requested that he be given the maximum penalty. He was sentenced to six years in prison.