Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Work-addicted law partner
Dustin looks tired. He always has. He’s prematurely going gray, small but stoutly built, and surprisingly strong for a man of his size. Despite everything he’s gone through, he comes off to most clients as self-confident… or at least able to convincingly fake it.
Dustin was a consummate overachiever his whole life. He graduated at the top of his class in high school, the top of his class as an undergrad, and the top of his class in law school. His extracurricular activity list was long enough to leave him with no time for a social life, and he even played division II football in college as a tight end. He was also the child of two sadistically controlling parents to whom nothing he ever did was good enough to make them happy. When they died in a freak car accident during Dustin’s last year of law school, he lost any opportunity he’d ever have to prove himself worthy in their eyes.
Acknowledging his life was his own never occurred to Dustin. Instead, he threw himself into his work. He poured in 120 hours a week in a frantic effort to make partner and prove himself worthy of his parents’ ghosts. His efforts culminated in a mental breakdown that saw him checked into an metal health ward for almost three months when he was 30. It effectively ended any chances of making partner at the firm where he worked. Many also believe it killed his career.
It didn’t, though. When the new firm of Monument Law opened with Dustin’s name on the front door, it was to the surprise of many—and the disgruntlement of no small few who hoped to use Dustin as a workhorse.
Today, Dustin remains addicted to his work, though he half-jokingly describes himself to his partners as “a functional addict.” Many hours of therapy sessions have helped him realize (though perhaps not completely accept) how nothing he did could have obtained the approval he craved from his dead parents. Still, Dustin spent his whole life trying to please others, and that’s been hard to let go of.
He’s found a new outlet through his work as a trial lawyer, and a new source of validation from his victories in court. Dustin is a gifted orator who didn’t captain his school’s debate team for nothing: some would argue he’s actually an even better public speaker than he is a lawyer. Part of what makes Dustin so valuable to his partners, though, is his particular knack for winning cases no one else will touch. He’s willing to take less pressure-intensive work, but Dustin is always at his best when the stakes are high. He particularly enjoys criminal law cases where someone’s future is on the line.
Dustin’s win rate is quickly becoming something of a legend in New Orleans’ legal community and his future once again looks bright. His partners Denise and Gerald are pleased by this, but they still remain wary of entrusting Dustin with particularly high-pressure cases. It clearly means the world for Dustin to see his name—or perhaps his parents’ name—on the firm’s business cards. The two aren’t comfortable at the thought of how he might react to “letting the firm down.” Dustin still takes anti-anxiety medication, and however talented he might be, one can’t always win.
And if there’s one thing Dustin has never done well, it’s lose.