Go west, young man
Several years ago, I was sitting outside a judge's chambers, waiting for something to happen, and I found myself next to another lawyer. We got to talking -- like there was something else to do -- and he told me how he was going on vacation the next week, to visit his son and daughter-in-law in Houston. It was tough, he said, to keep up with his work while he was there, so he'd set it up so that every morning his secretary would scan all his incoming mail, and then email it to him. He could review it, and then email her instructions about what to do.
So I shot him.
Well, I didn't, of course, but it might have been doing him a favor.
To a certain extent, law is an old man's game. First, you get better at it. There are few endeavors where there is a substitute for experience, and law is not one of them. You get better at this as you get older; you learn to judge people better, you get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you learn to handle yourself better. Plus, the law venerates age: get some gray hairs, and everybody -- judges, opponents, bailiffs -- treat you with more respect.
But it's also a young man's game. It's a very deadline-oriented occupation. A doctor's appointment book is filled with names of people who are supposed to show up at his office, and if they don't, well, that's too bad for them. Our appointment books are filled with places we have to be and things we have to do, and if we're not there or don't do them, it's too bad for us. That kind of stress can build up after a while. I know a lot of lawyers who just burned out, and I'd guess that 30% of the ones I know would quit in a heartbeat if they could afford to do so, and another 30% would give it some thought. There's a lot of them that don't enjoy their job.
I do. I like just about everything about it. I like writing this blog, and the stuff I do on the listservs of the state and local criminal bars, and doing seminars. I like doing appeals. I like handling criminal cases, even the appointed ones, because it means going over to the Justice Center and hanging out and talking with judges and lawyers, being with people I respect and who respect me, just being part of that community. The key thing is that, with very few exceptions, I don't do anything that I don't like to do. The best time in a lawyer's professional life is when he realizes he can say, "You know, I'm not going to take this case, because the assache wouldn't be worth the money," rather than having to say, "Yeah, this case is going to be an assache, but I gotta pay the rent."
But I don't like it that much. I don't like it as much as vacations, let's put it that way. About the only time I have a day where I don't do anything that's law-related is when I'm on vacation, so I pursue that opportunity with a vengeance. I'm the polar opposite of that other lawyer. Most of the lawyers I know will at least call their offices every day or so when they're on vacation to check up. Not me. I am wholly, completely irresponsible toward my professional obligations when I go on vacation. It's like I quit. I was in Hawaii for two weeks last October. After the fourth day there, I called the office to check my messages. Apparently, I was suitably assured that the Earth would not fall off its axis during the remainder of my vacation, because I didn't call again.
So tomorrow, the house sitters will arrive at eight, and an hour later my wife and I will be jetting off to Phoenix. I'm going to try out for a job as a weatherman there, because apparently the only requirements are the ability to say, "Tomorrow it's going to be X degrees and sunny." Assuming I don't get the job, I'll be back in six days, and will spend next weekend writing blog posts. But not tomorrow, or next week.
This space won't be barren during that time, though. This is the 1,409th post I've written since I started doing this almost six years ago. As I said, I like writing, and although the purpose of this blog is to inform, every now and then I'll come across a post I've done that I just think was nicely written. The last time I was gone, I posted some war stories that I'd done previously. This time I'll just repost some of the stuff that I'm kind of proud of.
Hey, so shoot me.