So last night my retirement became official, and I turn my career objectives from lawyering to writing. Twelve hours is hardly enough time for me to know how this will all turn out, but at this point, I can at least look back and feel great satisfaction from my years as a lawyer. It’s funny, but like a lot of people who ended up going into law, it was never my lifelong goal. Law was something I fell into when I realized I wouldn’t be a scientist. Nonetheless, I couldn’t have fallen into a better profession. Here are some of the many high points of my career:
- Clerking for the Hon. John Minor Wisdom, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, in the year immediately following graduation from law school. A great judge, a great, courageous gentleman and mentor. I will always miss him. I still have happy dreams when I’m back in his chambers.
- Trial in Tampa – (about which I’ve written an eponymous screenplay and non-fiction honorable-mention winning essay), when as a neophyte second-chair in federal court I took care of six migrant farm workers cum witnesses in a successful prosecution of slavery charges against two farm labor contractors.
- Galveston, TX six-week trial defending Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. against claims of four plaintiffs relating to Parlodel and happily ending up with a complete defense verdict, apparently surprising everyone.
- Having inspired the board game “You Dirty Rat” – an invention of a plaintiff unhappy with my having thwarted his frivolous claims.
- Managing to tie myself by my shoelace – inadvertently – to my chair in the middle of a trial, unable to stand to make objections, but able finally to secure scissors and snip my way to freedom before the judge or the jury noticed.
- Many more exciting and fulfilling moments too numerous to mention today.
I was privileged throughout my career to work with outstanding, dedicated people who taught me a tremendous amount, set examples of diligence and perseverance, and made these past 40 years a wonderful, magical journey.