It's over. Finally.
In truth, being a commercial litigator (i.e., a lawyer who fights business cases) was never a natural fit for me. I'm a kind, gentle soul who prefers to improve the world, not tear it down. But this job I've had for 40 years involves confrontation, aggravation, stress and public speaking -- things at which I recoil but deal with because I have to. I never wanted to do this kind of work; I simply fell into it when fate dropped me into this position at the start of my career in 1982. I developed valuable skills for the work during my first employment and ultimately became good at the job. But I've always hated it.
My plan, from about 20 years ago until now, was to steer my career toward self-employment (so I could stop enriching others at my expense) and when I had enough money, quit. I've achieved that goal. I can afford to "retire" -- which for me means steering my energy and talent in different directions, not lounging on a couch in front of a TV. I have intense passion for numerous interests and multiple activities. I want to actively pursue them, not sit in an office. Work inhibits those pursuits; not working will create opportunity to explore my passions.
I've studied retirement options and plans during the past 2-3 years and have a firm, educated grasp on what I need to finance the rest of my life and how I want to spend that time. Rather than labor for clients merely for money, I want to tackle bigger, more meaningful goals without having to worry about money. That means not having to compromise my ideals for a buck. I can chase goals independent of financial outcome.
Today was, hopefully, the last trial of my career. A big case, I conducted it before a civil jury and devoted serious effort toward it. The case had been pending for ten years so I didn't want to retire leaving it unfinished. Today it wrapped up (successfully) and I can now gradually wind down my law practice without guilt.
It'll take several months to do that. I'll have to turn down new business during that time which is hard; it runs contrary to my ingrained business instinct. Just today a colleague was bragging to his client about how good I am and wrote that the client wants to come into my office ASAP to give me a fat check. How do you say no to that? I'll figure out how tomorrow.
Freedom. Freedom from stress and agita, that's what I want. Freedom to explore new ground, travel to new places, deepen my understanding of intellectual and artistic subjects. I won't run out of fun things to pursue so I want to get started without delay.
Wish me luck. :-)