continued thereafter as a part-time employee until my retirement.
Did we make mistakes during the
Were there arguments and misunderstandings? of course! Megan and
I spoke on this very topic at a recent
cLe. But we got the job done. It is difficult to hand over your life’s work. The
test comes down to this: Do you trust
them? Have you been fair with them?
Will they take good care of your clients?
And in my case, the answers were all in
the affirmative. I learned, with some
difficulty, it was my job to complete the
transfer without regret or attempts to
hold on to old turf within the firm I built
The new owners will change billing
practices, policies, procedures, technology, staff, and client communication.
The retiring attorney (and this is the
tough part) should not be giving unsolicited advice or undermine changes.
We are to give this younger generation our blessing and then move on to
seek a more spacious life, giving all
those we love our undivided attention.
What remains now of “bright
I was invited into people’s lives to
solve problems. That is the honor. The
rewards can hardly be described.
I suspect that small-town attor-
neys are more visible and available
than their city counterparts. Whether
intended as fees or gifts (I never
knew), I have received: a Jersey calf;
fence posts; homemade moccasins;
venison; salmon; overgrown zucchini;
wild huckleberries; knitted hats; jams;
cakes; a fresh elk hide only a few hours
removed from the elk; cookies; spa-
ghetti sauce, meatballs, and lasagna;
and a discourse on “what does love
look like.” The Muckleshoot Indian
Tribe invited me to their powwow,
where I was given a blanket, draped
around my shoulders, then invited
to participate in traditional dancing
— first with children, then joined by
grandparents, then parents, then teen-
agers — drums pounding — ending in
exhaustion — I belonged. every day,
I drove by a friend’s office on the way
to work. knowing he was there was a
comfort to me (a shared history since
childhood). I have been overpaid.
I have served as a prosecutor, judge,
It is the people and families and
and defense attorney. I have been a con-
fidant and represented priests, ministers,
judges, attorneys, physicians, local poli-
ticians, tribal members, police officers,
felons, drunks, the homeless, the lonely,
parents of deceased children, and a
great assortment of family and friends
— quirky and otherwise. Sometimes the
boundary between client and friend blurs
until there are no boundaries.
over the years, I have experienced
anxiety from known and unknown sourc-
es — fed by the squirrel cage in my mind
at 3 a.m. and mostly related to my law
practice. But the victories, the defeats,
the anxieties, and the professional stand-
ing of whatever level I have mustered
have never compared in importance to
the people who have crossed my path.
their stories I will remember.
emotionally charged case. At the end
of the trial, everyone was wounded, including myself. Years later, the opposing party asked me to be his attorney.
We have become good friends. I have
carried this gift of unmerited kindness for over 35 years.
up newborn babies from hospitals and
delivering them to adopting couples.
• Meeting with families beyond grief
whose sons have committed suicide.
share their inheritance equally with a
stepsister left out of a will.
• The always-changing stream meandering through Wilkeson causing disputes between neighbors because the
“thread of the stream” was a boundary on many legal descriptions. The
stream may have produced more legal
fees than fish.
Who is milking the cows when dad
When the family business is transferred from one generation to the next,
it always comes down to this: “Will my
kids be okay, Dan?” They don’t run the
The wsba can help you
transition your Practice
Exiting the profession of law requires both careful planning and
a consideration of options. The
WSBA has resources available
through the Law Office Management Program (LOMAP) to help
you transition out of practice
– whether closing your practice
outright, becoming an emeritus
member, or transitioning your
practice to another attorney. For
more information about WSBA’s
practice transition resources, visit