It’s curious how the weather can sometimes mimic events in your life. You get some good news and the sun comes out, maybe. Or, in my case, the snow begins to fall and daily activities are brought to a standstill. Last week I officially retired from the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society (JLD). So, wrapped up warm with scarf, gloves and hat I set off for my final executive committee meeting to hand over, bid farewell and offer some sage advice to those recently elected.
At 31, it seems strange to be told you are too old for something. I recently spent a week with Joan Rivers who, at 77, is not accepting age as a barrier to anything she does in life. She was in the UK promoting her new film at a local documentary festival at which I have previously helped out (escapism from the day job or aspirations of creativity? Who knows). Joan proved to be both an enigma and an inspiration. What I respected most was her ‘what can you do but get on with it’ philosophy. And so she is getting on with it all over the world and is giving the newcomers a run for their money.
Unlike comedy, the JLD has some strict rules on who can get involved and, as I reached the end of my elected term, I knew it was time to step aside and make way for new ideas, fresh faces and a less war-weary outlook. That, and the fact I was barred from standing again being (well) over the five-years PQE mark. Sadly for Joan, there are no such rules and retirement is one word likely to make her laugh out loud.
So as the snow settles and covers the tracks of shoppers and commuters, it also leaves a blank canvas for the JLD committee to move on with the concerns of a new generation of lawyers. Some past achievements will stand strong through the blizzards, however. I am especially proud that the junior lawyer pro bono awards will continue with the support of Law Works and the Law Society.
Now that I am no longer a junior lawyer, what am I? I don’t think I am ready to be a ‘senior’ lawyer just yet, but it’s always reassuring to have a sense of belonging. Maybe it’s time to reclaim my weekends and enjoy my ‘retirement’ – at least for a short while. Maybe I will take up a new hobby – although looking outside it is neither the time for tending to an allotment or mountain biking. Something more befitting my mature status – pipe smoking and sherry drinking perhaps?
Good hair day
Finally, I want to add my congratulations to those gentlemen of the profession who bravely sported facial hair throughout Mo-vember. Although I came a little late to the game, this now annual event has raised thousands if not millions of pounds for prostate cancer charities. Being professionals – and younger professionals at that – there is always a risk in setting out to grow a beard or moustache. It’s one of those things you have little influence over – will it be ginger or even grey, will it join up in the middle or sides, will I look like Lenin or the Archbishop of Canterbury?
When it’s for charity though, people often hold back from being too critical too soon, fortunately. And when else can you get away with not having to shave and sneak in an extra ten minutes in bed? I wonder how many men will be forced to shave off their newfound masculinity before the holiday season starts? Or how long before the comments turn uncharitable?
This article was first published by Solicitors Journal on 7 December 2010, and is reproduced by kind permission