The cautionary tale of a failed legal career, Part 8

A Rake's Progress: VIII - The Madhouse (Public Domain)

Part 8: Success, of sorts

The post-practising period has turned out to be the most rewarding part of 'career', if that term is still appropriate. I wouldn't say that I have been 'successful' in the conventional sense. My 'success', such as it is, has been in finding a place where, for the first time, what I do has been moderately rewarding to me personally, whether or not it has been of benefit to anyone else.

And to be clear I am not talking of financial rewards. I am talking of the simple pleasure of creating something, and 'putting it out there'. And sometimes, just occasionally, I create something that pleases me, even if does not often please others.

What have I been doing? In a word, writing. Writing about family law, both for myself and for others. Writing for myself has included this blog, my book and providing family law news to anyone who may be interested. For ten years I also sent out a weekly family law email Newsletter.

Working from home I do miss the camaraderie of secretarial and support staff, but otherwise enjoy being entirely my own boss - even if the financial rewards are somewhat less than I was used to. I suppose I have always been a bit of a 'loner', social distancing long before it was de rigueur.

Having said that, during this period I actually found a qualified family lawyer who I could call a friend. Not that Marilyn Stowe is your average family lawyer. I don't recall ever having a friend with whom I disagreed so frequently, but that’s OK, as we always respect the other's right to hold their beliefs, and agree to disagree. Marilyn, you have helped me through this last period of my 'career', in more ways than one - thank you.

So what gems of wisdom can we glean from my sorry tale, apart from the hard fact that you cannot turn back the clock, no matter how much you may wish you could? Well, for the benefit of those still following, and in particular for anyone contemplating a career in the law, here are a few brief thoughts.

As I have said before, I may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, at least once in my career. One may think that I put this down to bad luck, but it is true that you make your own luck. Always assess where you are in your career, and if you do find yourself in the wrong place, move on.

And a recurring theme during this story has been my lack of ambition. Was this due to the fact that I had taken the wrong career path, doing something that I didn’t really want to do? Or would I have been equally apathetic, no matter what path I had taken? I suspect that there is some truth in the latter, although I can certainly think of some career paths, albeit unlikely, about which I would have been enthusiastic.

It is also no doubt true that I have not worked hard enough. This may be in part due to my inherently lazy character, but also a lack of motivation, resulting from being in the wrong profession.

In conclusion, the moral of this sad tale in eight parts is, I think, fourfold: yes, try to make sure you are not in the wrong place at the wrong time, but more than that have ambition, work hard and, above all, make sure it is the profession for you.

Otherwise, join the Civil Service...