Ken Nolan has been a dear friend ever since I joined Litigation Magazine in 1983. In 2009, when I was named Ambassador, I faced leaving the law. But I never found the magic words to express it. When it comes to words, Ken always has the magic:
I was in college a month or two when cops broke up an anti-war protest by dragging students by their long hair down stone steps until someone threw a punch and then nightsticks appeared. Blood streamed down young faces as they were hurled into paddy wagons. This was 1967 when we learned to distrust the establishment which was everyone over 30.
I taught high school, married, attended law school and there went my 20’s. I practiced law, tried cases, had kids, and became the hated establishment. A dark suit and striped tie—once an anathema–became my uniform. I raced from one case to the next, working long and hard. Then one bright Shelter Island day, I was called “pop-pop” by my grandson Luke. “Once I was the youngest in the room,” Bill Clinton recently said. “Now I’m the oldest.” So true.
Law has been always challenging, stimulating and fun. Unlike most lawyers, I enjoyed the endless discovery battles, the contentious depositions, the stress and exhilaration of trial. And still do, but after 36 years, I need and want to do less, take time to push Luke on the swings, teach him to play golf.
Especially for a micro-manager like me, litigation is all or nothing. Judges, adversaries will insist that I adhere to deadlines, will laugh if I tell them that I couldn’t produce discovery because I was on the tennis court. So I have a handful of cases remaining which I’ll see to conclusion. After that, I have no idea. I may return to law; I may write the great American novel. I’ll probably wander about a bit until I figure it out.
Others yearn for retirement. “Every day’s Saturday,” my uncle Tom said with a smile. Sitting around doing nothing is torture. I like to work. Soon I’ll have more time than ever, while for decades, I never had enough. Actually it’s somewhat scary, this new life, especially for someone who doesn’t like change, who only worked for one law firm, only lived in one place. It’ll be interesting—I hope.
Kenneth P. Nolan is Counsel to Speiser, Krause, Nolan & Granito.