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My Farewell Missive and Some Parting Advice

by Jay Reeves |

After more than 200 columns for this newsletter over the past 30 years, this will be My Last Monthly Missive on law, life, legal malpractice and baseball.

That announcement will cause no tremors on Wall Street, nor will it stir excitement among the masses. In fact, it is unlikely to be of much interest to any sentient being on the planet except the dog, who is interested in everything I do and enraptured by everything I say because I am the Bringer of Treats and Opener of the Back Door. 

Nonetheless, My Last Monthly Missive is a big deal to me. 

One cannot do something for three decades without becoming invested. So I thank Lawyers Mutual for the privilege and pleasure of being able to share random risk management ruminations with the cosmos. Special thanks to Julie, Sharon, Nicky and Camille.

Mostly thank you, Dear Reader. Without you, there would be no point to any of this. We lead busy lives, and time is fleeting. I appreciate that you chose to be here.

And so, as I pack up the byline and blotter and head out for the green pastures where old risk managers roam, I leave you with 12 Tenets for a Terrific Law Life:

Terrific Law Life Tenet #1: Hold your head high.
What you do is good and noble work. It is not for the trifling or faint of heart. You affect people’s lives. You can change the world.

Tenet #2: “
What we have loved, others will love. And we will teach them how.” William Wordsworth
Once there was a young barrister who was blessed early on by wise mentors who taught him to take his Law Life seriously, and work hard, and be upfront with clients, and love your family, and laugh daily and dance when you can, and don’t freak out over little things, and almost everything is a little thing.

That young lawyer was me.

As years passed and I became less young, mentors continued to show up when needed. David Blackwell and John Quincy Beard and Doris Bray and Dicey Gant and Mike Dayton and Jim Sleeper and Tony Hornthal and Rockin’ Rick and Jack Stevens and Duane Allman and Bill Holdford and Judge Gus Pearlman and Judge Fielding and Tony di Santi and Bill Massengale and Chief Justices Frye and Exum and Judge Eagles and many others with names forgotten or never known. 

Tenet #3: There is no big trick to being nice.
That quote is from my late grandmother Effie Reeves, who also said “What goes around comes around” and “Hard head, soft butt” and “The two most important words are please and thank you.” 

Tenet #4: If someone says, “I never tell a lie,” they just told one.
And if they say, “To make a long story short,” it won’t be. 

Tenet #5. The world does not revolve around me, although I often pretend it does.
This explains why other people do not remain obediently in their orbits and respond immediately to my every need and gravitational whim.

Tenet #6. Don’t waste time trying to make other people act how you want them to act.
It won’t work, and you will both end up annoyed. 

Tenet #7. Your purpose in life is not to please others.
This includes family, friends, clients, colleagues and – but only sometimes – the dog.

Tenet #8. Chill out.
We live in a world where there is a National Center for the Study of Rage, which says everybody is angry all the time. The Desiderata suggests a kinder, gentler path:

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Tenet #9. Don’t live the Law Life someone else wants you to live.
Let them live their own.

Tenet #10. Don’t shuffle off this mortal coil without saying what you need to say.
“There is no greater agony than having an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

Tenet #11. Listen when others tell their stories.
Law school may wring most of the humanity from us, but it cannot extinguish our universal desire to be seen, heard and acknowledged. 

Tenet #12. Make of yourself a light.
And yet be unafraid to face with unflinching honesty your Dark Side, for it is when you deny or avoid or flee from the unpleasant truths about yourself that you begin to slip into the shadows.


Holiday Gift Tenet: Follow the flutter.

Once there was a lawyer who after 42 years of practicing law and managing risks and raising a family and writing newsletter columns felt a flutter in his belly. 

He had experienced this flutter before, in earlier seasons of his Law Life. He knew what it meant. But now he was in the golden season – a time of Cheeto’s and Netflix and beckoning couches – and would rather not face it.

But the flutter persisted, as flutters do, until one morning he woke to the realization that complacency had set in, his life was in a rut, and the Great Baseball Novel he knew was inside him was not writing itself.

Joseph Campbell says follow your bliss, and Doris Betts says nurture the spark. I call it the flutter, and I have learned over the course of 67 years to follow it or else. 

Which explains my recent move from Chapel Hill NC after 35 blessed years in Blue Heaven to lovely little Newberry SC, where everything is indeed new, and finding the post office is an adventure.

And so My Final Missive ends with a fresh beginning, which is cool.

May joy, peace and abundance be yours, this holiday season and every day of your precious life.


Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly 40 years in North and South Carolina. Newberry SC is halfway between Prosperity and Waterloo. True, look it up. Contact jay@yourlawlife.com.





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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