It’s that time of year when I am scrambling to get my continuing education hours for my law license. The same thing happens every year – I think about it all year and then, with six weeks left before the deadline, I began frantically looking for any available CLE.
As it happens, I typically end up taking my CLE with the same company year after year. And even though I’ve never met Billy, I have developed a warm friendship with the man who rescues me from my CLE burden every year. For the past several years I have taken my CLE, via live webcast, with the same attorney, Billy Newman.
Now, most continuing education classes are deathly boring. I’m talking, let-me-walk-on-hot-coals-in-lieu-of-listening-to-this-lecture boring. I hate to impugn my fellow lawyers, but people of my profession tend not to be the same people who can deliver lengthy, engaging lectures. But not Billy. I love his humor, the interesting tid-bits that he brings up, the useless trivia (think Cheers’ Cliff Claven) and the wonderful wit that many of my lawyer acquaintances possess (when not lecturing).
As usual, in the days preceding Billy’s CLE seminar, I dread every minute I have to spend sitting in front of my computer. For indeed, the CLE is an all-day affair, spanning from 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM. But as Billy began talking, it brought to mind one of the things that I do miss about working full-time among my legal colleagues.
Most of my friends and acquaintances in the legal field were well-read. They had large vocabularies, a dry sense of humor, much cynicism and the love of letting everyone know how smart they were. And what I realized while listening to Billy speak was that I missed that. I miss being around people, most of whom are highly intelligent and from whom I always learn something. I miss debating current events and expanding my mind based on the experiences and perceptions of other people. I miss picking up new vocabulary in casual conversation and I miss being able to say exactly what is on my mind. For lawyers tend to be very thick skinned and opinionated and not overly sensitive. Can they also be narcissistic jerks? Certainly. But I am waxing nostalgic about the good stuff so humor me.
The kids actually get a kick out of listening to Billy as well. He tells wonderful stories while weaving in legal knowledge, and my son often finds himself captivated by what Billy is saying. While listening to Billy the other day, my son commented on the fact that Billy has a very large vocabulary as there were many words that Billy used that my son asked me to define for him.
My kids are also fascinated by the fact that Billy makes me laugh. Because of course, they don’t really get any of his jokes as the jokes tend to be way above the kids’ head. In fact, many people of my current acquaintance probably would not have found Billy’s jokes funny. That is not to say that it is a bad thing; lawyer jokes are just that – lawyer jokes, intended to be funny to other lawyers. I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing them.
One of the scariest things about leaving a career to homeschool your kids is that you will miss the day-to-day interaction among your peers. And you know what? The struggle is real. I can say that I don’t really think about it most of the time because I am 100% full doing what I’m currently doing. I’m homeschooling my children, I’m running a business, taking care of the household and writing a book. That’s more than enough to keep my mind occupied and to give me a sense of purpose.
I also continue to read quite a bit. I read lots of news from different sources, I read non-fiction books and I still read the occasional novel. On top of that, I am reading lots of history out loud with the children.
But, I don’t really have anyone to talk to about all the stuff I’m reading except the children. And while they are very intelligent and mature for their age, they are children. They are not the learned older lawyer who can give you nuggets of wisdom you would never have thought of for another 20 years. They are not your colleague who will challenge the way you interpreted what you’re reading. And they are not the younger attorney, fresh out of law school, with their own radical ideas about how the profession and the world should operate.
And so, as I have one more day to spend with Billy this year, I look forward to once again having my chuckles, googling interesting new facts on the iPad and in general spending a little time to reminisce about the old days.