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A Lawyer’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, though it usually gets shortchanged from the commercialization of Christmas (nothing annoys me more than Christmas displays replacing Halloween displays at any commercial retail store).

Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been able to fully embrace Thanksgiving this year. I have been busy with work, busy with family, busy with friends, and generally busy with life. For a period of four straight weeks, I organized four separate events, ranging from a high school reunion to a political fundraiser. I tried a couple of cases and argued several motions. I wrote briefs. I attended soccer games for my oldest and recitals for my youngest. I ran my 13th marathon. I spend time caring for sick family members and spent more nights than I would have liked 0n a hospital cot.

But my life is no different than the lives of other attorneys or legal professionals. Whether it’s the birth of your first or your first jury trial, life is stressful and you can get lost in the weeds. We all experience our own forms of “busy.”

Gratitud, monument a Canalejas, Alacant
So before I succumb to a gravy-induced food coma on Thursday, I wanted to think about the things that I am thankful for.

Trial Victory (and Defeats) – I love winning. In reality, we all do.  Attorneys are a competitive bunch. I also hate losing. With every victory or defeat, there is some type of lesson to be learned. I rehash each trial and, win or lose, think about what I could have done better and what mistakes I made. Hopefully, I will not make the same mistake twice.

Pleading Causes of Action and Pattern Jury Instructions – Two books that any civil litigator should not live without.

FastCase – Free legal research if you are a MSBA member. Nuff said.

My Law Firm – The discussion about work-life balance begins and ends with the place you work. Choose wisely. I did. While we work hard and zealously represent our clients, the goal is to solve problems and not simply bill hours. And when an emergency comes up (like an ER visit the Sunday before Thanksgiving that may end up in your loved one being admitted for the night resulting in the need for coverage for work the next day, though it gives you time to write an overdue blog for The Daily Record), the response is overwhelming.

Running – I alleviate stress in three ways: running, eating and drinking. The first is the healthiest and provides me with the opportunity to put things in perspective.  And it can usually turn a terrible day into one that is not so bad.

Mentees – As I get further away from my law school graduation and closer to retirement, working with younger attorneys reminds me of why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. There is a mutual benefit from mentoring and it is something that everyone should do.

Family – A family that supports my personal and professional endeavors, whether its allowing me to chair another bar association committee or joining me on a four day camping trip in Western Maryland to listen to bluegrass music.

Dolly Sods – A three-day hike in West Virginia, carrying everything you need (including a box of wine) on your back, without cell phone service is a recipe for happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Happy trails as you venture to spend time with family and friends and best of luck finding that moment of bliss that usually comes immediately before the onset of a food coma.  Let me know what you are thankful for in the comments section below.