Both yesterday and today, I'm spending most of my waking hours in an exceedingly cold (seriously, why so cold?), sterile, tired-looking hotel conference room, attending a continuing legal education course. In Texas, lawyers are required to complete a certain number of hours of law courses each year (including a specific number of ethics hours) in order to ensure that their licenses remain active. It's a great way to make sure that your knowledge of the law stays fresh (as law school recedes farther and farther away in the rearview mirror of your memory); however, on the down side, the courses are generally incredibly dry (imagine grey powerpoint slide after grey powerpoint slide citing laws, statutes and judges' pronouncements), making them somewhat painful to attend.
(An exception: some time ago, I attended a CLE course led by this guy -- and it was incredibly entertaining, to the point of actually feeling like spending a morning at a comedy club. Sean, I would pay you good money just to call you and have you make me laugh on the phone for 3 hours on the subject of legal ethics before the end of the summer. Seriously. Think about it.)
I'm actually severely overdue in attending my CLE courses -- I've been truly conflicted about taking them. On one hand, I worked really damned hard to get my law degree (and let me tell you, the bar exam is its own concentric circles of hell), and this fact, coupled with 15 years of solid legal experience, makes it seem somewhat reckless to simply let my law license evaporate into thin air. But on the other hand, keeping a license active is expensive -- the prices of these courses, coupled with the state bar dues and professional license fees required to be paid each year can often mean upwards of $1000 annually just for the right to say "I am a lawyer." This seems somewhat asinine, considering I don't practice law anymore. And I must admit, when I heard Gretchen Rubin speak earlier this year, and she talked about how the decision to stop paying her bar dues was the equivalent of her complete acceptance of her fully identifying herself as a writer, I found myself nodding with excitement. Yes, I thought eagerly, continuing my license means somehow not fully embracing my new, creative life. I shouldn't feel guilty about allowing my license to lapse. I should take the full leap.
But then, I kept thinking about it. And I decided that for right now, anyway, it doesn't make sense to give up my license. I never know what life may throw at me in the future, and the truth is that my past -- my education, my work experience -- coupled with my license is an integral part of the tools I have to make a living and take care of my family going forward, no matter how I decide to do it. Besides, I've always been a huge and vocal proponent of the concept that all life experience validly contributes toward career qualifications. Writing, blogging, photography, law -- I figure it should all go in the mix.
And so, even though as I look around at the bored attendees listening to the course drone on and on in front of us, and I fervently hope I never, ever have to return to the practice; even so, I have to admit that I'm feeling a great sense of relief that I'm finally sitting in this room, taking this course.
And on that note, have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
Image: Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm lens