Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

What to do if...you think it's time to stop?

 
What To Do If....
           
You find yourself agreeing with a John Grisham character that it is time to leave the practice of law. It is over. No more. No more ringing phones, no more needy clients, no more money dances by the mailbox, no more concerns. Off to [insert the dream destination of your choice].
Before closing the office door, some wrapping up must be done. First, call the State Bar (to which you have been paying money lo these many years) for advice on what to do with all those files. Follow their directions.
Off to--destination unknown
 Second, arrange for the garage sale. Run an ad in Res Ipsa Loquitur or your local paper announcing the date, time and place. Walk through your office placing a little price sticker on each item, and taking a stab at an appropriate price for it. On sale day, wear casual clothes; assemble your cash box, a favorite chair and a cooler filled with the beverage of your choice. Place yourself comfortably by the door to the office, greet those entering, take the money of those leaving and enjoy the day.
Next, write the obituary. Here is a suggested obit:
Deceased. Beloved practice of J. Attorney. Age: many years. Closed this day following many battles for the rights of others. It is survived by numerous satisfied and one, maybe two, not-so-satisfied clients. A memorial service will be held at the home of J. Attorney on February 26, 2013. Please bring a “passing” dish.
Finally, plan for the memorial service. The memorial service declares that a death has occurred. It commemorates the life that has been lived. It offers friends, family and clients the opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased practice. So, a little planning is necessary.
What to do with the remains. What are the remains? The bar card is the one tangible piece of evidence of our existence as attorneys. Select a coffin for the bar card. A shoe box will do nicely. Line it with satin or the fabric of your choice. Place the card on a little satin pillow. Some cultures adorn the “body” with amulets for future use. You might consider placing a yellow legal pad and a pen in the box to assist the card in its next life.
It is probably not necessary to decorate the outside of the box. A simple label: “Here lies the bar card of J. Attorney. RIP” could be affixed with tape. Place the coffin in the front parlor or other prominent place in your home for viewing. A few pictures of you in action might be appropriate.
Cremation or burial? Cremation is viewed by some as liberating the spirit of the deceased. Certainly your spirit will be liberated with the demise of the card. In winter, cremation might be the best solution. The ground is hard, it is cold and no one wants to go outside. If you have a fireplace, use it for the cremation. If not, a barbecue grill could be called into service. This would force folks to go outside, but only briefly. The ashes? Scatter them about the yard or preserve them in an urn to be displayed in a place of honor.
The service prior to the cremation also needs to be planned. It is possible to call an acting school to hire mourners who will wail and grieve. Not to your liking?
A more conservative approach would be to ask people to say a few words about the practice of law. Examples: “The Law: It has honoured us, may we honour it.” (Webster) Or “Wrest once the law to your authority: To do a great right, do a little wrong.” (Shakespeare) On Lawyers: “It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do.” (E. Burke)
Or, the line we all know so well: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (Shakespeare)
Following the lengthy eulogies, the assigned pallbearers can carry the “coffin” to the fireplace for disposal. Carefully placing the coffin on its funeral pyre you light the fire. A toast might be in order (see above for suggested words). A ceremonial tossing of the paper cups into the fireplace would be appropriate. Once the remains are reduced to ashes, they can be scattered to the four winds in your back yard.
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 Ring. Ring. “Attorney J? This is Mrs. Gotbucks. I was referred to you by a former satisfied and happy client. My problem is....”
You are off and running. Back to the law. All other plans are canceled. For as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” When all is said and done, we do enjoy the experience.

Read more light-hearted essays capturing the essence of lawyers and lawyering in "Why Do We Do That? Commentary on lawyers and the law."
Roberta GubbinsComment