Goodbye to All of That


By Benjamin M. Adams on Jan 6, 2017

My name is Benjamin Adams. I am a recovering attorney. Step 1 in my recovery was realizing that I needed to quit practicing law even though it makes me feel good. Part of why it feels good for me is because I believe that I am helping others but another huge part of it is that I love the feeling of fighting and I love the feeling of winning. Winning can take so many forms because there are so many ways to beat an opponent. You can beat them in negotiations, or you can beat them in a trial, or you can out-strategize them in the big picture so that the negotiations or the trial don’t even matter. These chances to win are also chances for me to feel good, and it feels especially good when I am beating down a morally corrupt opponent or, in the absence of that option, when I’ve sufficiently demonized my opponent. It is difficult to separate the winning from the doing good from the feeling good.  

So it may seem ironic that practicing law was bad for me even though it made me feel good much of the time. Then again, that is why Step 1 is the hardest step to take.

The other tension I could never resolve was my sense of obligation to the client squaring off against the practical imperative of my own self-preservation.  I am duty-bound, by sworn oath and by professional ethics, to zealously represent my client’s interests and I have felt the weight of those burdens increasingly with each passing year. However I feel duty-bound at a higher level, but also in a more incongruous way than the simple dictate of following the rules. Since my practice was mostly in bankruptcy and foreclosure defense, my client’s interests were always personal and usually urgent to them. In the end, it always ended up feeling personal and urgent to me as well.

This sense of personal urgency produced disequilibrium on a number of levels including an unpleasant, near-continuous thought-feeling that I should be doing more and better for each of my clients. That thought-feeling was amplified by the fact that there is always more that you can do for a client — especially if you are willing to work for free. So I was left trying to do the maximum good for my clients, who were all of minimum means, yet through that very process also provide my family with the lifestyle I wanted to provide. The whole situation left me with a sort of moral tinnitus.

I still run a law firm that conducts real estate settlements, but that’s practicing law in name only. I may do some pro bono work but I may not because the key realization that enabled me to leave practicing law– I can help in other ways. There are lots of ways to help. I did this kind of help, on and off, for 20 years. The time has come for me to find a new way. Other things I wont miss? I can think of a few. Dealing constantly with other lawyers. Engaging in argument as both the primary and secondary form of communication, with no third option. Driving an hour , then sitting for 90 minutes, speaking for all of  30 seconds, and then driving another hour back to the office.  I won’t miss that, especially since this always entails wearing a suit and often involves shitty weather outside and an early A.M. commute.

So goodbye to all of that. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Professionally, I will continue to help people with real estate closings and with title insurance and with real estate finance because that will pay the bills and none of my clients have any problems with that nor expectations to the contrary. This new approach is designed to help me think and read and write and then repeat the process. The hope is to make a positive contribution to the public discourse and to participate more directly in the political process. This Pretty Ugly Blog is step 1.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

Please follow me on Twitter @BenAdamsO_O


About Benjamin M. Adams
Recovering Attorney, Dad of Six, Concerned Citizen

One Response to Goodbye to All of That

  1. Melissa says:

    So proud of you, Ben! You have done so much good for so many… it is time to treat yourself with the same compassion. I know this next chapter will reap rewards for you and your family.


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