When I was in my elementary years at school, back in the late fifties, I would come home from school and I would watch Superman and Perry Mason. I know, I know, what do they have in common? Superman was, well, Superman. Who else was faster than a speeding bullet? Who else was more powerful that a locomotive? Who else was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? It’s Superman! I loved it, but never thought I would ever have that job. You know, the job of super hero.
Perry Mason was a lawyer. Not just any lawyer. He too, like Superman, fought for truth and justice. He was a criminal defense lawyer and was always able to win his cases. He was smart and seemed to have anything he wanted. He had a nice office and always wore a suit. People trusted him. That show left a lasting impression on my young mind. I wanted to be like him. I didn’t perceive myself as exceptionally bright, but it was the idea of what he was doing. Fighting for the wrongly accused, getting to the truth, and being a winner in face of difficult circumstances. Kind of like Superman.
Going back to that age, did I have any roll models that I was able to talk to about being a lawyer? No. No family, no neighbors, no one I knew was a lawyer.
My dad was an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force. We had a large family, six kids, and we lived much of the early part of my life in trailers, metal hallways, today they are called mobile homes, although no one ever moves them. On an airman’s pay, we were poor. Did we know we were poor? No. As kids, we thought we had it all. Dad moved every couple of years and visited new places and we were international travelers.
My role model was my dad. He got up before the sun every morning and went to work on airplanes. He loved it. He was living his dream. He loves airplanes. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to work on airplanes.
My mentors in the legal profession.
My legal mentors and attorney role models were television and movie lawyers. Yes, I would watch shows that glamorized the role of the lawyer. Here is what I like most about the lawyers I saw on television and at the movies.
- They always won.
- They always had these lavish offices.
- They were rich.
- They had big beautiful homes, often with swimming pools.
- They had nice new cars or were driven around in limousines.
- Did I mention they always seemed to have a lot of money?
That’s what I wanted. I wanted the lifestyle. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and not have to worry about money.
Growing up, we never seemed to have money. We would go to the grocery store and out in front of store, there was a mechanical horse ride. Place 10 cents in the slot and you got to ride for a couple of minutes. I could imagine myself being a real cowboy for a couple minutes. Except there was never enough money to ride. There were six kids. Allowing everyone to ride would take some time. My cowboy days would have to wait.
My Inspiring Story?
Getting back to the story. When someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them I wanted to be a lawyer (sometimes a cowboy). I never wanted to be policeman or fireman like a lot of kids my age. I always indicated I wanted to be a rich lawyer.
My recollection was that my family was amused. I don’t know why they were amused. I hated to read, hated to write, hated homework and never really did well in school. I was easily distracted. Teachers never had glowing comments to make on my report card. Often the comments were just the opposite. I did graduate from high school, however, barely, but I graduated, that was all that mattered.
I was not encouraged by anyone to go on to college. So, I went work at a car wash, vacuuming cars and driving them through the wash. The really nice cars always belonged to men and women that dressed nice in suits and dresses. I kept thinking “I wanted what they had.” The lifestyle I wanted continued to show up in my life, just not for me.
I eventually went to work in the trades, as a roofer, drywaller, cabinet maker, and ditch digger. After a while, (I was a little slow) I realized that I was no closer to my dreams than when I graduated from high school. I decided to enroll in college. I was a little nervous.
I surprised myself and my family.
In college, I actually applied myself and ended up with all A’s my first semester. I thought to myself, “I can do this.” I went a second semester and managed to pull off all A’s again. Barely graduating from high school was not a predictor if my success in college. I eventually managed to graduate college with honors and a 3.9 average out of 4.0 scale. Law school was next. I applied to law school and was accepted. Woo hoo! It was hard work, but it was worth it. I did well and graduated from law school.
Reality sets in.
I discovered that large law firms are very selective. If you have a family that owns a business or if you are able to bring business to the law firm then you are an attractive candidate. If you were raised in a trailer and your background is military, you are not as attractive.
I opened my own law practice. What I discovered was that the real practice of law was nothing like what they showed on television or in the movies. There was a lot of reading, study and re-reading of very boring statutory language and case law. There was a lot of writing involved in preparing motions, lawsuits and opinions. It required focus, a lot of focus. Everything I hated in my youthful school years was present in the practice of law.
I found myself going in to the office early in the morning, which, by the way, did not look like the television offices! Work consumed so much of my time that I was unable able to leave the office until late into the evening. What happened to being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and not worry about the money? Although money did come in, it was not wealth. It was enough and a little above average. However, not enough for the amount of time I had to spend away from my family.
Now 25 years later, I am giving up the “glamorous” early mornings to late evenings stuck behind a desk. I am giving up the five and often six days a week spent away from home. It is not the lifestyle I wanted. I am returning to the dream I wanted so long ago. You recall, I wanted a lifestyle that allows me to do what I want, when I want and not worry about the money.
There is a better way.
Does any of this sounds familiar or resonates with you? Did you get sidetracked from your dreams? Are you living your life differently than you imagined it would be? If this does sound all too familiar. If you want to know more about what I am doing to earn the money and have the lifestyle I wanted in the beginning. If this is the lifestyle you wanted in the beginning, visit my website at www.lewisadams.net.
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See you on the other side.