This year, 50 years after becoming a lawyer, my Dad had his right knee replaced. He said it was due to all those years carrying a briefcase in his right hand. I believe this to be true as the literal and figurative weight of lawyering tends to damage the body.
On October 4th Dad was honored, along with about two dozen other lawyers by the Washington State Bar Association for having survived 50 years of lawyering.
It was a close call.
Just getting into the bar required working at the sawmill in Everett all night, then going to law school during the day, supporting our family. My mother worked at the hospital too. It was the early 1960’s; there were no student loans, no Great Society and the New Deal wasn’t new any more. He caught up on sleep on the weekends.
One night he was too tired and some machinery, the green chain they called it, severed his right thumb. There was no reattachment surgery in those days.
He graduated with the Class of 1963, and after a time with the NLRB, our prosecutors office and a time as a District Court Judge he entered private practice where the real danger lies. I have memories of him in the hospital,flat on his back after back surgery, on the phone with some jerk from King County who wouldn’t agree to a continuance.
And now, after 30 years of practice I joined my Dad, together with my sister Kathy Webber at his 50 year lunch. We were happy to see Mike Kight there being honored along with Judge Thorpe (ret.)
The woman next to me commented she thought the master of ceremonies, the current WSBA President looked like he was in high school. Yes, he does.
An older speaker from the generation being honored commented on how fast things had become; where as a letter took a couple of days to arrive, and there was time to think about a response, the practioner today has minutes to decide what to do after the e mail arrives. I remember thinking fax machines were bad.
He also said for the class of 1963 the word of the lawyer meant everything. He stopped there, leaving the implication about today.
I asked my Dad what he remembered about 1963. I expected him to say something about graduating from law school, or perhaps hearing of the Kennedy assassination on the radio after being involved in a car wreck next to the twin teepees ( no longer standing ) at Green Lake.
Instead he said the best day of 1963 was the day he got to quit the sawmill.