Reviewing the last century

This post marks the first century of my odd ramblings about practicing as a solo out in rural America and I thought I’d mark the occasion by reviewing some of the topics I’ve covered. Rather than doing it through my eye’s, I thought I’d let the words of a keen observer of humanity do it for me, a man who once observed that “Adults are just obsolete children” and whose nonsense has helped to wake up our brain cells and enabled us to laugh at life’s realities – Dr. Seuss.

To keep things straight, the good doctor’s words are in italics.

A number of my posts have been on  how difficult making that decision to go solo out of school was. Here is Dr. Seuss’s advice:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

To summarize my posts on transitioning to life in a small town, Dr. Seuss notes:

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed

Then there are the numerous posts on being solo, to which the doctor observes:

All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

I have also written on the various hurdles and doubts encountered when trying to open a rural practice. The doctor ‘s comment is:

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me.

My only regret is that I spent most of those early days trying to figure out accounting software, find a bank for my IOLTA account, buying office supplies, tracking down insurance, and taking CLE’s; having a big bat would have made things much simpler.

Client expectations are another topic covered in this blawg and managing client expectations is often key to a successful attorney client relationship. Dr. Seuss reminds us that clients come in saying:

This mess is too big and too deep and to tall. We can’t clean it up! We can’t clean it up at all!

And if all goes well, the attorney client relationship will end with you saying:

When at last we are sure, You’ve been properly pilled, Then a few paper forms, Must be properly filled. So that you and your heirs, May be properly billed.

While I’ve not written much about the vast chasm between the way lawyers are taught to write in law school and the real world expectations of judges, opposing counsel, and clients. Dr. Seuss did want to comment on the essentials of good, real world, legal writing:

The writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads. That’s why my belief is the briefer the brief is, the greater the sigh of the reader’s relief is.

Writing simply means no dependent clauses, no dangling things, no flashbacks, and keeping the subject near the predicate. We throw in as many fresh words we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don’t always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it vital and alive…

And finally, there are my often repeated themes: the dearth of lawyers willing to practice in small towns and the strange reluctance of lawyers, especially young lawyers,  to look beyond the confines of suburbia. To which Dr. Seuss comments:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to bet better. It’s not.

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

It has been a fun century and I’m looking forward to century two.

One thought on “Reviewing the last century

  1. Bruce, I LOVE this post. So clever and so true. I especially enjoy Dr. Suess’s quote about the big mess. While I do my best to help my clients solve any tangled issues, I do wish some days I could just use Dr. Suess’s line instead.

Comments are closed.