We end the year as we began—with a change. At the beginning of the year, I moved out of the Vaughn Building, my office home for over 20 years. Now, I am letting go of my office space on Ben White to join the growing movement to work from home.
If only I had known, when I lost my lease at the Vaughn Building, the big change the world was about to undergo. I took another office, because, of course, I needed a place to meet with clients. But then the pandemic put an end to my office meetings.
I regretted moving my office out of downtown, because I liked being able to walk to the courthouse for hearings. But now the hearings are on Zoom.
All this came at the end of a years-long project to digitize all my files. (Thanks to many, but mostly to Jane!) Another reason to maintain an office—cabinets full of paper—was gone.
Meanwhile, Sierra, my legal assistant, was campaigning to work from home.
After a short hospital stay in September, I made the decision. I negotiated an early end to my office lease. And I’m out. Working from home.
Check out my new address. It’s a post office box. So it’s not the law office: it’s the law practice. Sierra is happy, I think.
I miss meeting with clients. I hope the inauguration of a competent chief executive will eventually make it safe to hold meetings again. Meanwhile, I’m working out a flex office where I can meet with people when needed.
There was one more reason I kept an office. When I left the office and went home, I left the work behind. Now, it’s at home, always present. But I still have the habit of mind that when I quit for the day, I’m done.
Although I’m also working out a succession plan with a lawyer I trust who can step into my place if necessary, I’m planning to live a long time. I’m not even 70 years old, and law is a profession that allows a person to work as long as they have the desire, or as long as they have need and ability. At present I check all of those boxes. But change happens.
Recently, I thought about leaving law practice. I’ve never done anything so long as I’ve done this. In the event, I was surprised to realize that I didn’t want to quit. I have the confidence that comes from knowing what I’m doing, learned by making every mistake I could. Practicing law allows me to make decisions and act on them. It affords me the freedom to devote time to quixotic crusades or creative reveries.
I enjoy practicing law. I revel in my relationship of trust and service with my clients. The stories, and the insights into human nature, are even deeper than those I enjoyed at the beginning of my working life, when I drove a taxi in Austin. I expect to continue for a good while. And even in continuity, change happens.