The very talents and behaviors that made him successful in his career killed the relationship he valued most. So he quit.
I delivered my closing arguments to prove my client’s innocence.
The cop wasn’t being truthful. The witnesses weren’t believable. And the prosecutor had it in for my client.
The case was blown out of proportion and should have never come in front of the jury, I argued.
I made the closing arguments to my attentive jury to do the just thing and pronounce my client not guilty.
My client was facing a loss of freedom and fines that he would never be able to pay. Jail time for years. The only thing that stood between him and the bullpen was me.
All I had was my ability to harness the facts and show him in the best light. The evidence didn’t prove his guilt, nor the witnesses’, nor the testimony by the authorities I argued.
I had to persuade this jury to see the truth and set him free.
“Find my client not guilty and let’s all go home,” I suggested to the tired jury, as the court day came to an end.
Picking up my briefcase, putting on my jacket, I walked out of my work room and jumped on the bus home. I had done my job. I knew that I would return to the next day to celebrate our probable victory. I knew the jury was with us.
While my work day was done, my wife awaited my return.
At home, you wouldn’t have thought the trial had ended.
Our conversations weren’t communication as much as they were condemnation and rigorous arguments to make my point.
Could she prove that fact beyond a reasonable doubt?
What evidence did she have to make her case?
Who were the witnesses? Where was the paper trail?
No, we weren’t caught up in a murder trial—we were simply living our lives together as a married couple.
Unfortunately, it was a life where I showed up each day with the arrogance and conviction of a court-room trial lawyer.
Why didn’t anyone tell me that the skills that I relied on in the courtroom to win would lead to the downfall of my marriage?
Winning arguments, cross-examination and introducing damning evidence were skills to protect my clients’ innocence, but they weren’t the recipe to fulfilling my marriage vows.
During the trial of marriage, I couldn’t see how bringing my lawyerly A-game was destructive to our relationship.
I might have felt like I was winning the argument or furthering my case, but I was in fact digging the hole which would bury our marriage.
Fueling my anger, expressing my disdain, and attacking her with destructive words might have won the argument, but it lost each precious day of our relationship. Being a courtroom bully and a jerk of an attorney was no way to conduct myself as a husband. Or person, for that matter.
Now, years after divorce, and day after day of introspection, I realized something I should have seen years ago.
My legal skills doomed our relationship.
My demeanor sucked the love out of her heart.
My job killed my marriage.
I attended its funeral and used my legal skills to lay my marriage down to rest. I prepared the parting paperwork to make our separation official.
I had filled out dissolution paperwork so many times before for clients, yet I had never imagined putting my name in the place of petitioner and her name for respondent. The names seemed intimately familiar. The divorce form felt distantly foreign.
Dissolution granted, the judge stamped on the paperwork the court sent back.
My job had killed my marriage.
My only revenge was killing my job.
It’s been more than five years since I’ve walked into the courtroom.
It’s been more than five years since I deactivated my bar membership.
I’ve since parted ways with my professional job and career in the law.
I now welcome life; I replaced conviction with compassion and being right with understanding.
I shut my personal toolbox of legal skills so I could open my soul again.
I laid my profession to rest in a peaceful death so I could be reborn.
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