Years ago, I was certified by the State Bar of California to be a Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) provider. I chose to provide a four hour course. One of the rules was anything over an hour had to have written material to accompany the course. Mind, no specific amount of written material was specified… (this after all was run by attorneys and judges: ya gotta have wiggle room to argue). Bottom line: I wrote a manual entitled, “When to Lay the Weapons Down.”
My business name was A.W.O.L. back in 1994. Imagine telling attorneys right to their face that sometimes you have to go Absent With Out Leave (AWOL)! Attorneys live, fight and die by the rules. And not necessarily in that order…
It actually stood for A World of Light (sshh!) and I was pretty sure they would not come with such a wu-wu sounding title. Why was I doing this in the first place? I wrote here that I believe in Purpose, specifically that your life has a purpose and your assignment is to find out what it is and then do it. In fact, depending on how you do, you could be given a series of Purposes to be accomplished over time for the growth of your Soul. The one I have been working on (floundering on?) was:
“So, since you’re there, Hunt, we have a new mission for you, if you choose to accept it…” Right. If that was the meaning of going like a rocket, let’s crawl this time. As there appeared nothing for it but to keep on, I said, “Okay, what’s this new mission?” “We want you to lift humanity to its next level.” Right. Righty-O.
Long story short, attorneys were polled informally, “If you could do it all over again, would you become an attorney?” The answer was damning. Eighty percent (80%) of the respondents said, “No.” I mentioned this to one of the senior attorneys I worked with and he said, without hesitation, “And of the remaining twenty percent, ten percent are lying.”
The State Bar Associations all agreed something must be done. The call went out for providers who could teach courses on stress, substance abuse, law practice, bias, etc. I had become pretty well known in the firm I worked for listening to people and when they asked, advising them. An attorney passing by threw out casually, “Hey, Hunt, you ought to apply to be an MCLE provider…” I chose those four as my area of expertise. I applied and the Judge reviewing my application demanded to know my qualifications. After all, I did not have a college degree, so what was I basing my expertise on?
Well, Good God, what was I going to tell her? She wanted the answer in less than 24 hours by close of business day. My brother was visiting. He had multiple degrees and super-duper business credentials and was paid a well into six figure salary for that very expertise. Being my brother (and one of my students), he was up in arms in defense of me, pacing the floor, coming up with arguments to present to the Judge. Moreover, the day she wanted the answer was my birthday, which I regard as sacrosanct. What you do for God, eh?
That morning, I sat down to write my response. I thought of all the attorneys I knew, not one of whom was happy or content with their lives. I do wish I had kept a copy of that letter. As I recall, I thanked the Judge for giving me an opportunity to address her concerns. I explained that, while it was true I did not have a college degree, I had yet to find one that taught you how to live with joy. That I had spent thousands of dollars and hours upon hours of my life learning exactly how to do that. I asked if she had ever met an attorney who was happy, truly happy? …The words flew furiously onto the page and quicker than quick, the letter was done. I signed it and faxed it off. When I came home that night there was a message from the Judge’s Clerk that my MCLE Provider application had been granted. It was a great birthday.
I designed the course, wrote the manual “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” and taught the classes.
Over the next couple of weeks, maybe months, I am going to be publishing some of that material because the same issues still come up, attorney or not. Some of you might find it useful and some might just enjoy it.
Just before I left Los Angeles in 1996, I was called for jury duty and during the Voir Dire process, the attorneys quizzed the jury on their qualifications to be jurors. One of the questions was: “Do you know an attorney?” … wait for it… The jury was astounding in searching their consciences and list of people they knew. “I think I met my neighbor’s attorney at a BBQ.” “Thank you. Juror Number 7, do you know an attorney?” …wait….
“Why, yes. Yes, I do.” Said Juror Number 7.
“Would you please tell the Court your relationship, if any, to the attorney?”
“Well,” Juror Number 7 said, “I worked for the seventh largest law firm in Southern California. I am certified by the California State Bar to be a Minimum Continuing Legal Education provider, teaching attorneys courses. I was married to an attorney. I have two brother-in-laws who are attorneys. I guess,” Juror Number 7 said reflectively, “You could say that I eat, drink and sleep with attorneys.”
“Juror Number 7 is excused!”