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Loose Ends

A good friend of mine makes his living managing musicians and musical groups. Driving back to reality after a weekend of fishing and grilling out with his friends last summer, the two of us discussed our respective careers at length.

He pieces together very different types of work to make ends meet, and it works very well for him. It keeps things interesting, and he can make his own schedule. Things can get hectic, but things can also be very calm. His work life has obvious goal posts. The next booking or the next concert signifies a clear stop to a given task. He can tie up loose ends before beginning a new project.

Although I have one very clearly delineated job, to some extent, I too piece together a living getting different types of work from different places. All of my clients need representation in criminal cases, but their cases and backgrounds are very different. Like with my friend, that keeps me interested. Unlike my friend, however, things are rarely ever calm for me. My career often feels like a power-walk through a dense and endless forest of goal posts. There’s a point where there are so many of them that they lose their significance.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation quite a bit this week. I have a number of big trials on the horizon and have been preparing extensively, filing pleadings and conducting interviews. Mid-week, a prosecutor decided to dismiss a felony case because of a motion to suppress I filed. That was certainly cause for celebration, but there just wasn’t any time to celebrate. I have more motions to write. I have trials coming up. When those are done, there will be even more motions to write and more trials to do. It’s a good thing I like the work.

The overlap of tasks is a necessary byproduct of business being good. If I didn’t have some overlap, I probably wouldn’t be making any money. From what I can tell, even if I chose just two cases in my caseload and dropped everything else, I’d probably still have the same problem. It’s actually a lack of a problem from a business standpoint, and I’m certainly not complaining. The work never ends. There’s always something. That’s why the lights stay on.

The work also doesn’t yield itself to neat prioritizing. I had a plan for yesterday. I had all of the things I needed to do organized and ready to do, but things didn’t go according to plan. I knew they wouldn’t because they never do.

Things that aren’t even on my radar always pop up and take precedent. I end up having to file an emergency something or call an angry someone. A well-planned day falls apart as I work hard to put out fires and reorganize. As is always the case, I found myself ending yesterday just like I’ll probably find myself ending every day next week. I have a well-thought-out strategy for Monday I’ll never actually use.

Like I said before, I’m glad I like the work. It’s challenging, interesting, and ultimately fulfilling. It isn’t something I can tie up into a neat package. I’m not complaining, but I’m also not denying that I’m often envious of people going through life without the loose ends. Some days, it feels like that’s all I have.

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