The practice of law can be demanding. I have historically found refuge from its rigor in long car trips, but more recently gain the same relief on airliners, trains and cabs around the United States and Europe. There is a refuge in the road.
Along the way I have snapped many photos, but always there is the itch to write about the experience. Writing is cathartic, and when I cannot be on the road I tend to write, and write about anything.
Presented for your approval, about 30 years of articles written for the Snohomish County Bar News under the title Lawyers Road Review. This series of articles began as a means to highlight that there is more to life than the practice of law, and is published this year as a book with that intent. This is not everything ever published by the bar, instead it is sort of a “best of”collection organized into several chapters loosely associated with what I was thinking about each month as the deadline approached.
The forward is entitled Alas Atticus reflecting on the very real experience of witnessing the better qualities of my fathers generation of lawyers disappear with their retirement and passing, replaced by a more mercenary sort, as if the practice of law and the outcome of each case requires total and nuclear commitment. Judgement and perspective is all lost in a will to win. The conduct of the most recent generation does not reflect well on the profession.
With that admonishment a brief description of the contents follows in my introduction, which I summarize here:
Childhood Lost reflects on my observations growing up in Everett Washington and the adventures we undertook as a family, like for example this delightful experience with our Dad in the Tea Cup ride at Disneyland in 1967.
This is followed of course by then growing up, marrying and having children of my own and then experiencing their own childhoods; not at all the same experience I had, completely different era, yet from the perspective of a father just as enchanting.
Seattle is a self explanatory title. The chapter begins with the turbulent outset of the car ferry culture we enjoy here in Western Washington and ends with the dystopia that gripped the city in 2020; pandemic, Floyd riots, tepid city response. We are only now recovering.
Adventures falls into that great reality that we live in a time where any average person can go and do things no one else other than the privileged could do in the past. For example the cover of the book is a snapshot taken by the author at the highest point one can drive to as a civilian on Gibraltar. Beyond that point are British military barracks. Or consider on another trip to France encountering this sign on the invasion beaches at Normandy.
Cuts from History is just that. A long chapter reflecting my somewhat obsessional interest in history. Some are fiction of course. Winston Churchill for example never sought counseling with Sigmund Freud but I thought the encounter might have been interesting. Additionally my chronic focus on the Second World War and in particular the role of the RAF in the conflict evolved into a two part bombing mission to Essen, Germany targeting the Krupps works there, with an only partly fictional crew. I placed a young man I know from Nottingham on board as a flight Sergeant, Thomas Higgins.
The Arts begins with a recounting of Romeo and Juliet set in a modern divorce as their families were never in favor of the union. The rest are reflections on current productions none of which match the work of William Shakespeare I am afraid, judging by what I have seen and read. Like I said, we have had opportunities ordinary men historically have not had, such as visiting the birthplace of the Bard at Stratford upon Avon.
Guest Articles are just that, members of my firm writing as to their perspective on lawyers and lawyering both fictional and non-fictional. My law partner and Bullitt edition Mustang owner Geoff Jones has a lot to say about the law and movies made about the law but ultimately reverts to the origins of Lawyers Road Review and writes about cars. Both he and our intrepid office manager for life Val King comment on how technology has invaded the practice such that we are caught up managing the machines as much as we are managing cases.
Commentaries is where I get into trouble. Historically conservative, my now corrected skepticism of the problem of climate change and its solutions are published again only as a mea culpa. Other comments I think are more accurate reflecting on the election of the 45th President of these United States and other governmental actions for which I retain that skeptics view. Other comments are about what we encounter as the average citizen here.
Actual Car Reviews reflects the origins of this work; I think ultimately I would have preferred to review automobiles and related topics for a living. Most lawyers would prefer to be doing something else.
My long and loving relationship with a 1970 Ford Mustang is recounted including our 2006 divorce when it was sold to fund, in part, my daughters tuition at Whitman College, also featured in this work. Here is the snap my father took, shortly after handing me the keys to this overpowered and underweight death trap on my birthday in 1975. I was happy it retained its value and ultimately served its purpose, launching the next generation.
Finally in the Epilogue I reflect on the fact that if you practice law long enough one not only provides services to the children of your father’s clients, but also the children of your own patrons. Perhaps that is the moment when one recognizes mortality.
Part of our travels took us to Madrid and the tavern Ernest Hemingway used to hang out in a short distance from the front lines in the Spanish Civil War. I like the writer, and I liked the beer they served at the cerveceria, Cruzcampo.
Unlike Hemingway I am not a crisis junkie war tourist gathering bits of fame by being where things are either happening or have already happened. I just show up and see what is before me, and set it down in this script.
So maybe that is what this is; a collection of short stories with some fact and some fiction collected into one mans view as he spins through the time he has on this earth and prays he leaves something tangible behind other than a series of pleadings with his name on it in an obscure venue in a rarely mentioned state, the “other” Washington. I think that is all Hemingway wanted; a tangible memory. Here’s mine.