The smartest client I ever had

Posted Friday, April 7th, 2017 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Law and Culture, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to General Public

I went to a top tier liberal arts college to obtain my undergraduate degree. Many of my classes there involved reading and discussion on the concepts of truth, beauty and honor. It was assumed that the study of liberal arts was training us for a life of public service and intellectual pursuit. Very little focus was on love and family.

Thirty years later I see most parents of young adults encouraging their children to devote their energies to scholarship and career development. This is especially true of parents whose children are high academic achievers. The basic idea is that love and pair bonding should wait until education is completed and career is established. In an era of cohabitation without wedlock and high divorce rates, it is assumed that favoring love and family over career and financial stability is a sucker’s game. I find such guidance a sad commentary on our culture. I also believe it to be misguided.

A few years ago, I represented a man who may have been one of my smartest clients ever. He was relatively young but already highly accomplished in his profession, and his scholarship was gaining him some renown. He had been married for a few years to an almost equally accomplished women in his same profession. When the time had come to start having children, he realized that this was not the person with whom he wanted to raise children. He came to me seeking a divorce.

To say his wife was displeased with his realization understates the matter. He literally paid a high price to get out of his marriage but he did so gladly. A few years later he remarried and a few years after that he had a daughter. If you looked at his Facebook feed it would look quite similar to mine: numerous posts of him out with his wife but even more posts of him and a beaming daughter luxuriating in his company. Acknowledging that most people use social media to project a positive persona, he still seems genuinely happy and genuinely happy with his life choices.

I’ve practiced family law for almost a quarter century and I greatly enjoy my career. However, I treasure the love of my family, and my time with my family, vastly more than I value that career. If you ask most people what they value more: “family and love” or “career and money,” few will tell you “career and money.” A few folks will be lying when they give you the socially acceptable answer but most folks won’t. We do our children a disservice when we encourage them to focus on career and financial success to the detriment of learning to love and become lovable. While much of popular culture celebrates financial success and power, and much of academia celebrates intellect and scholarship, it is love and family that sustains us and gives our lives meaning.

The smartest client I ever had was smart enough to know this.

One thought on The smartest client I ever had

  1. Amen brother! Wise and thoughtful. Thanks for sharing. No one on their deathbed ever says “I wis I’d spent more time at the office.”

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