Leave this earth better than when you got here.

An old friend, I’ll call him David (because that’s his real name and I don’t think he’s embarrassed to know me) called me last night. He was on the way home from the wake for a lawyer we both knew, Joe Generelli. Joe had been around this business for years. His paths and mine never intersected, they only get near each other. I had very few dealings but Joe had a great reputation.

David and I have known each other for more than 25 years. We have kids that are almost the same age. We are growing old together along with a lot of other lawyers in this business. It’s pretty neat that we’ve all gotten respectable jobs, except maybe me, as time passed. The lawyers I count as mentors all went on to form law firms, serve as general counsels at companies and become generally well-regarded members of the bar. Some of them even were that way when I met them. But my friends and mentors all had a hand in turning me into what I am today. (There are some who regret that on occasion.)

It got me thinking this morning, as I was stuck in traffic headed to Fort Lauderdale, about how we should measure our existence. None of us are getting any younger and every once in a while it’s good to take stock of our lives. Overall, things are pretty good.

I’ve been married for 31 years — to the same long-suffering woman. Many of my readers (all 6 of them) know her. We work together and have done so for most of the last 15 years. I have a neat law practice that, on most days, makes me happy and glad to be a lawyer. It wasn’t easy to get here, and much of it was happenstance, but at the end of the day, the practice of law suits me and it appears to suit most of my friends who are lawyers. I’ve been practicing for over 27 years and I’m proud to say it.

In my career, I have handled some neat cases. I’ve met some neat people. I’ve even gotten some results that made a difference in my clients’ lives. It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while the stars align and, boom, things go just right. 10 years ago, my former partner and I got a wonderful result for a couple that thought they had no hope. What a rewarding experience that was. Fast forward to this year and I am proud of the result we got for a client against Morgan Stanley. There are times where we really do, in a big way, what I told my kids we do — help people with their problems.

I have a two lawyer practice in a beautiful town in a lovely state. On good days, I ride my motorcycle the 3 miles to work. It’s a recent acquisition and makes the short drive very enjoyable. I have a nice mix of work and an overall really good group of clients. One of them even decided to hire me because he read my blog (for you naysayers out there). I try a few cases a year. The days of week after week of hearings in different cities are gone. They are a younger lawyer’s game.

When I leave this earth, I want those that remain to feel like I left the earth a little better than when I arrived. Because when we get called to wherever we go when the old ticker gives out, you don’t get any more do-overs. I try to be a good mentor to the lawyers I work with. I try to be as courteous as I can muster to those people who annoy the heck out of me. Sometimes it doesn’t work, I must admit. But I’m starting to feel my mortality as my friends and acquaintances get sick or disappear and I want to make sure that I did something other than breathe someone else’s air.

So, Joe G., we didn’t really get a chance to work together. That’s my loss by all accounts. But I heard that you got a quite a showing at your wake. Most of the old guard was there from your Hutton, Pru and UBS days. They will all raise a glass in your honor, I’m sure, at the SIFMA conference next spring. Good for you, leaving the earth a little better.

Enough rambling for one day. I’m Marc Dobin.

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