Today marks 10 years since I began working as a lawyer in Lafayette at the firm that is now called Hoffman, Luhman & Masson. Proving that I am not really all that clever, I started work on Columbus Day, 1999 thereby skipping a paid state holiday I would have enjoyed had I stayed on with Legislative Services.
I decided on the career change because I was chasing a girl, and I wanted to try my hand at private practice. Both worked out far better than I deserved. The girl is now my lovely wife, Amy, who was, at the time, teaching in Monticello. And the law firm I landed with was a well-respected, small firm in Lafayette that treated me very well from the start. I have to chalk up my choice in firms to dumb luck. They were the ones who had a job to offer at the time. Not too long after I got to Lafayette, I noticed an ad out for a particular attorney working out of Delphi. And, not too long after that, that particular attorney was getting disbarred. I could very easily have wound up in a situation like that.
There has been a nice balance in what I have been able to do as a private practitioner. The collections work isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating, but it’s steady and pays the bills. It allows me to get into court frequently, practice some basic skills in a low stakes setting, and get to know the courts. And, the odd thing is, I seem to enjoy it more than most. The government work – in particular, my work defending the Sheriff’s Department – has provided me with more complex cases where I get to stretch a little. And, fortunately, the people I am defending in these cases have been good people doing their best. Even if they get in tough situations, that makes my job easier. The insurance defense cases – typically personal injury, automobile accidents – are a middle ground between the routine collections and the government work which, at times, can be fairly described as “mystery law.”
My personal life has changed dramatically over the past decade. Basically, I became an adult while I wasn’t looking. I got married, bought a house, became a small business owner, and had a couple of kids. If those things don’t have a maturing influence on you, I suspect nothing will. It’s been a good ten years. Hopefully the next ten will be as well.