Our church is celebrating the advent season this month. With that comes a four-part series each week. Yesterday’s message centered around Waiting for God. (Not the British comedy series.)
Life is full of turning points. Some we enjoy. Some we don’t.
There was a time when the practice of law was like a trip to the general store. I’m not saying that practicing law was once like stocking shelves with cans of peas, an assortment of jerky and shot gun shells. But there was a time when the local attorney helped people with every variety of legal need. Like medicine, that is really no longer the case. Today, the practice of law is specialized. “The law” is impacted by the laws passed by Congress and state legislatures, as well as federal and state courts. The constant “updating” of the law makes it difficult for people to be “generalists.” Our litigious society doesn’t help either.
Things have progressed over the last 6 months. It’s been up and down. I spent some time decompressing from 9+ years of firm life. Jen and I took a trip to St. Pete in February for a few days. I helped coach a little league team in Sandy Springs this spring with a former colleague at my old firm. That was something that I had wanted to do for a while and just had not had time to do. It was a lot of fun working with those 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds. We did well too. Finished the regular season 21-3 and then swept the league’s “World Series” to cap off the 23-3 season with 2 trophies. I am planning to help out again next year, so it will be fun to watch the 10’s and 11’s become 11’s and 12’s and see how they progress.
I don’t generally get into New Year’s resolutions. Not that I have anything against resolutions or people who make them every year. I think we need goals. I think we need things to keep us moving in a positive direction.
For 2009, I don’t really have a resolution per se. But I am in a different position than I was in at the beginning of 2008. It’s a different position than I was in on the last day of 2008 for that matter.
I left my position with the law firm at the end of the year. It was a long time coming. I have been tired of law firm life for a couple of years. I knew it. The firm knew it. But we both tried to make it work thinking that a switch might flip and bring me back to the fold — so to speak. Alas, that switch was stuck in the off position.
We’ve known this situation was coming for a couple of months. The firm and I worked out the transition back in mid-October. If I may, I have to thank my firm for its patience with my efforts to figure out what I wanted to do and its efforts to help me find something that better fit my personality and my desire not to sacrifice my family for my career. I only worked at one firm after law school, and I wouldn’t have wanted to work at another one. But for all the great things about that place, it just wasn’t right for me. Eventually.
There was a time when I thought I’d be there for 30 years. I loved working 60-70 hours a week and the perks that came with it. I loved being everyone’s go-to guy. Being the guy everyone knew they could call at or before 7:00 a.m. in an emergency. Being the guy who could be counted on to work 40 hours in a weekend to get a project done. Being a guy who could pull an all-nighter to get that last-minute brief written.
But all that came at the cost of less time for Jen. Less time for friends. Less time for family. Eventually, people stopped asking me to do things because they assumed I was working anyway. Who could blame them? Often when I was able to make it to things, I was either still thinking about work or too freakin‘ tired from work to be present. Even after I’d stopped working weekends, people still assumed I was working all the time.
Part of me got caught up in the idea that I should do my job with excellence, and that that meant I had to be at everyone’s beck and call. And that meant I had to not be around for everything else that I “said” was important to me.
Even before K-Man came along, I knew I needed to review what I was doing compared to what I said was important to me. I knew things had to change. I tried to step back a little. I tried to commit to less. I tried to work fewer hours. But the firm needed to see performance. Law firms measure performance by the number of billable hours an attorney completes. I understand why. That’s the economics of a law firm. I get why that is important to a law firm. But it’s a crappy way to live. That drum beat never stops.
So it was time to quit pretending. It was time to go.
I don’t know what is next, but I am enjoying exploring my options. I am looking at opportunities to work in-house as an attorney for a corporation. But I am also looking at things outside the legal world. I want to make the most of this opportunity to find something that fits me and fits what we need as a family. That may sound easy, but it’s not. We are doing a lot of praying. And we are trusting the Lord to show us what’s next.
In case you didn’t notice, I missed a few days this week. OK, every day this week since Monday. My second year of NaBloPoMo is less then a success. I can live with that. This week has been crazy at work. Getting ready to file a brief and getting all the ducks in a row. Long days. No time or energy to write. But you don’t want to listen to my excuses.
Despite my less than consistent posting, you guys keep dropping in here. In fact, this week, one of you was the 10,000th viewer of this electronic journal. I’m guessing that at least half of those views are people searching for new photos of K-Man. I don’t blame you. Keep coming back because there’ll be more of those. And thanks for dropping in.
Speaking of Kee, I think this is going to be a big year for him at Christmas. Not because he’s all into the gift-getting. For the last few months, he and Jen have watched Polar Express about once a day. We watched it 1.5 times today. Of course what started the love affair with Polar Express was the train. In fact, it is still commonly referred to around the house as “Train Movie.” But in the last few weeks, he’s noticing the Christmas things in the movie — especially the Christmas tree. We don’t usually get our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but this might be the year we do. Just to see Kee’s eye light up as we walk through the Christmas tree forest (in the parking lot at White Water.)
I have been tagged by h to share 6 quirky things about myself. The hard part is limiting the list to 6 because I have a long list of hang-ups, um, quirks. See how many you can find that fall into the Freudian column of “anal-retentive.”
So without further ado:
1) I always blow my nose after I take a shower. First thing. Something about the heat of the shower just loosens up the nasal contents. And post-shower, they must be eliminated. If I reach for the shaving cream or razor before blowing my nose, this alarm goes off in my head telling me that things are amiss.
2) I don’t use dressing on salads. Waiters always do a doubletake when I say “no dressing.” You have no idea how many waiters or fellow patrons have recoiled and blurted “No dressing?” like I was choosing not to breathe.
3) The clock in my car is set 10 minutes fast. My alarm clock beside the bed and my watch are set 5 minutes fast. I hate being late. This helps prevent that. The clock in Jen’s car is not set ahead. Oh, I’m not going there ….
4) When I get a new CD, I have to open it up as soon as I get in the car and listen to it. For the younger crowd that only downloads music, let me explain. See CDs are these things that were like records …. Wait, um, records were these things that you played on a record player with a needle …. Oh, nevermind.
5) I hate it when papers are stapled and the pages are not flush together in the corner where the staple is. When the pages are all messed up or fanned out and then stapled, it just looks like you don’t care. People should care about how pages are stapled together. As an attorney, I deal with a lot of paper and a lot of stapled sets of paper. A while ago, my assistant copied some documents and put them in an envelope to send to a court and to opposing counsel. At the last minute, the client wanted to change something so we decided to wait a day to send the documents, so we held back the copies that had been made. I took the envelopes from my assistant to avoid inadvertent mailing (shut up, I confessed my anal-retentivism above. It could happen. Why not prevent it if you have the chance?) So the next day, on a lark, I opened the envelopes just to see what she was planning to send. The stapling was atrocious. (Yes, stapling can be atrocious people.) Fanned pages just stapled. FANNED! Then I flip over the document to see that the copies had come out of the copier that way (you can tell this because the staples from the copier close differently then that double-humpbacked way they do on your traditional Swingline model.) So, I’d identified a lack of attention to detail but maybe not a stapling deficiency on the part of my assistant. The documents in the court’s copy were the same way. Not acceptable. You think I’m anal-retentive. You don’t want to cross a judicial version of anal-retentive. Trust me. So I walk over to my assistant and show her one of the copies with the crazy stapling. You know what she says? “Yea, I saw that.“
Don’t tell me that! You saw that these things were coming out of the copier all cock-eyed, but you just threw them in the envelope anyway? At least fake ignorance. So I nicely tell her that we cannot send out copies that look like this even if they come off the copier like that. This sends an impression of me, the other attorney on the case, and the firm in general. No can do. (I didn’t actually say “no can do” — THAT would sound so condescending.)
6) For all my anal-retentiveness, I keep a messy office. At work and at home. I just pile things up and work on what’s at the top. When things from the bottom or middle of the pile require attention, they get moved to the top. See, look for yourself: