I have started spring-cleaning in anticipation of down-sizing , and one of the things I tossed out were my lawyer’s robes. This was a big step for me — I’ve been a lawyer for thirty years. But I haven’t worn them since 1992: I don’t even know if they still fit. For the last decade or so, I’ve hung them from trees at Hallowe’en with a scary mask and scared the bejesus out of little kids. (Lawyers are scary, children. Yes they are.)
Disposing of my robes is the symbolic end to a career I’ve been edging away from for years. I am a realtor for the moment, perhaps for the rest of my adult life. Am I a mystery author now? I guess the fact of a publishing contract puts me there, but I won’t really believe it until I see the books. And the sales.
In my weekend ‘urge to purge,’ I also started tossing out law texts that I’ve been hauling around with me since I was a first year law student back in 1977.
The Current Law of Contracts was published over thirty years ago. Whatever’s in that book is no longer current.
I tossed out autobiographies of judges and lawyers who have long since died; binders with courses I took in the 1980s on preliminary motions in criminal trials, prerogative writs, bail applications. A decades worth of antiquated, annotated Criminal Codes from the 1980s, when it was still possible to read the Canadian Criminal Code in one sitting and find cases in it without a search engine. When I started practising law, there were no computers, no cellphones, no voice-mail, no emails. We had secretaries who answered our phones. They did our typing on old, manual typewriters with carbon paper. White-out was the big innovation.
Going through my little library and putting things in a pile reminded me of how eclectic my interests have been over the decades. Criminal law, Aboriginal law, fisheries law, water law, negotiations, health law, intellectual property, even NAFTA and charitable work. A constant evolution as curiousity drove me to new experiences. What’s next? I wonder, as I add to the pile. Selling this house is my first step, but what’s ahead is uncertain.
I have a good friend from Whitehorse who took six months from work to go on a ‘Weed, Pray, Love’ kind of journey, working on organic farms around the world while she learned more about meditation and yoga. That’s not my thing, but I certainly admire her courage. For me, the bravest thing I’ve done recently was to put those robes in a big black garbage bag, and set it out on the curb.