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Hauling the Law with a Wisconsin Trucker

by Jay Reeves |

It’s not the road conditions or other motorists that pose the greatest driving risk – it’s the weight of the load you’re carrying.

That pearl of wisdom came from my new friend Patrick, who was telling me what it’s like hauling freight across the country in his tractor-trailer rig.

We met purely by chance a month ago in Madison, Wisconsin. I was there to give a CLE talk at the Wisconsin State Bar, and he had just rolled in from Waukesha to pick up his next load. We were eating by ourselves at adjoining tables on the patio of the Irish restaurant Erin’s Snug, when I noticed him eyeing my baby blue sweatshirt.

“North Carolina,” he said, nodding. “Just so happens I’m heading to Asheville tomorrow.”

And with that, I invited Patrick to join me for bangers, cheese curds and the Brewers-Rockies game on the large screen TV.

Carry That Weight

A few hours earlier I was standing before a roomful of lawyers delivering a keynote address on creating healthy, happy law lives.

The lawyers came from Madison, Middleton and Milwaukee, but they could just as easily have been from Mooresville, Mount Airy or Mebane. Their concerns were the same. Their desires were the same.

They wanted to know how to survive and thrive in a complex and ever-changing world. How to serve their clients without sacrificing their health. How to aid the underserved and also be able to make a comfortable living.

Most of all, they worried about keeping all those plates spinning.

“Sometimes I feel overwhelmed,” said one sole practitioner. “So many people are depending on me.”

This was a common refrain. The weight of client expectations, time pressures and family demands can be crushing. The pace of practice keeps accelerating. The load grows heavier.

Take A Load Off, Fanny

My trucker pal Patrick said he was leaving at sunrise to deliver a load of paper cups and lids to a restaurant supply warehouse in Buncombe County.

“It’s a light load,” he said. “So it’ll be a sweet ride.”

He explained that a heavy load makes everything more dangerous: braking, turning, changing lanes. What about careless motorists, bad weather and congested traffic? Aren’t those also stressors?

“Nah,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got no control over those things. All I can do is keep my eyes open and stay in my lane.”

And yet we lawyers tend to complicate matters by swerving out of our lane, stressing over LegalZoom and other competitors, and scrambling to snare new clients instead of serving the ones we already have.

No wonder we sometimes have trouble coming to smooth, restful stops.

And so in Madison, we considered ways to lighten our loads. We talked about telling our stories and sharpening our messages. We discussed the importance of setting boundaries and saying no. We even spent a few moments just sitting in silence.

Turning Burdens into Blessings

I asked Patrick what he liked best about long-distance trucking.

“Getting there and back safely,” he said without hesitation. “There’s no better feeling than dropping that load and coming home.”

And perhaps therein lies the key. It was clear Patrick loved his job. Many lawyers do too. What they don’t love is all the cargo that comes with it.

So let’s spend more time celebrating the good stuff instead of being flattened by the bad. Let’s honor our successes, no matter how small. Let’s take better care of ourselves and each other.

And let’s never forget to say a silent thank you when we make it home safely.

Jay Reeves has practiced law and done some other things over the years. The Milwaukee Brewers won that night’s game in dramatic fashion, with a 9th inning walk-off home run by Eric Thames. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. Want a speaker for your next bar meeting, firm retreat or CLE? Contact jay@yourlawlife.com or 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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