April 01, 2013

From Trial Lawyer to Retired Lawyer

Stepping away from the law.

Edna Epstein

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He asked the question as if I might have the answer necessary for his soul’s salvation. “Tell me: How are you managing it? You were so active, so involved in the daily practice of the law. You seemed to thrive on it. How, how, how . . . did you manage to give it all up?”

“Peter,” I said, “the law is something I did. And something I enjoyed doing. But it never defined who I was.”

He repeated my answer with wonder. “‘It never defined who I was.’ I never thought of it that way.”

“No. Men rarely do. Maybe that’s where we women have a slight advantage over you guys in our culture. We are accustomed to defining who we are through our multiple roles instead of only our professional stature.”

And then I continued: “Well, what would you do if you knew your time left on this earth would be a very short while? Would you really want to spend that limited time with all the stresses of an active litigation practice? Would you really want to measure that time, not in T. S. Eliot’s coffee spoons, but in billable hours? Or are there books you want to read or write? Friends and family you want to see more? Places you have never been, places that you want to see before you are too decrepit to enjoy seeing them?”

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