"REINVENTION" An article I just published in "Experience" Magazine, a publication from the American Bar Association, January/February 2018


A TRIAL LAWYER TRIES THE CASE OF THE LAWYER WHO WRITES

    Reinventing myself has long been a favorite pastime.  The scariest time was in my early thirties when I shut down my law practice and went to Nashville to write country songs.  My big break never broke and I knew I would always be a songwriter trapped in a lawyer’s body.  I just traded the courtroom for a word processor, and was fortunate enough to have two books published in 2017.  One is based on my time in Nashville, and the other is a medical/legal thriller about a couple who go for in vitro fertilization and the woman and her baby receive a death sentence from a mysterious stranger. 

RONNIE SPECTOR WAS RIGHT:  "I CAN HEAR MUSIC"

     The journey from lawyer to writer started when I began to use song lyrics in court.  A defendant doctor testified he was compelled to use an outdated surgical procedure. I asked if he was caught in a trap and couldn’t walk out, as an image of Elvis singing ‘Suspicious Minds’ flashed.  A witness testified he was a high voltage electrician, and I asked if he was a lineman for the county, as visions of songwriter Jim Webb and Glen Campbell singing ‘Wichita Lineman’, appeared.

"YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT" SAYETH THE ROLLING STONES

     The biggest reason I write is because the stories I have experienced are compelling and need to be told.  Getting published was not my most difficult impediment; it was people who give me specious advice.  I once pitched a story about two ex-jocks who became law partners.  An agent huffily declared “no football player was smart enough to go to law school, let alone two”.  I told him I would instantly notify ex-Miami Dolphin Nick Buoniconti, attorney and former CEO at U.S. Tobacco, and ex-Minnesota Viking Alan Page, a Supreme Court Justice in Minnesota. 

     Being published was almost anti-climatic.  I was happy to quit my ninety-hour work weeks and lengthy malpractice trials. I was also teaching Evidence, Torts and Negotiations as a full time law professor, so writing was like a vacation.  The sequel to my first book is almost ready and I owe much of my success to my wife, Linda. She recently retired as a senior vice president at a leading teaching hospital.  You can imagine what a huge hit I was, as a plaintiff’s lawyer, with the physicians at her Christmas parties.  She once said my biggest problem was I wrote like a lawyer, and it took “Two Supreme Court Decisions and the entire U.S. Code for me to declare ‘it depends’.”

THE BEACH BOYS SAID IT:  "FUN, FUN, FUN"

     If you're looking to reinvent yourself after retiring from the law, my advice is to have fun. Utilize the same business principles in retirement that you used to run your practice.  Revel in things that fuel your passion.  There are no summary judgments left; no associates to groom.  I’m also teaching guitar to my neighbor’s teenage daughters and am guided by the lyrics of songwriter Lori McKenna who wrote: “help the next one in line.” When they conquer a new song, the feeling I get is best described by country singer Kenny Chesney who once said, “Yeah man, that’s ‘The Good Stuff’.”      

Find out about my novels, www.WhispersFromTheSilence.com about two country songwriters, and my medical/legal thriller, www.UnexpectedEnemy.com  and also check out my BLOG at:  www.TimCagleAuthor.com

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