Seasons of Work: Summer File Cleanup and Memories

During the slight summer lull, I like to keep abreast of the latest legal developments by attending Continuing Legal Education Classes (“CLE”s) and doing a tiny bit of business planning. I know most lawyers’ tendencies are to garner as many billable hours as possible, but once in a blue moon I do work “on” my business rather than “in” my business, as so many business consultants and advisors have recommended over the years. Last week the Denver Bar Association presented a slew of programs as part of Membership Appreciation week, in order to educate us lawyers and get us excited about remaining members in the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations. I attended a CLE about best practices for document retention and destruction presented by an attorney who works at the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

 The CLE made me think about my boxes of inactive legal files taking up precious space. According to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, I don’t need to retain these forever and ever, like I mistakenly thought!   So I took the first step, gathered up and dusted off the files. I contacted the individuals who hired me to help them or their companies with various legal issues and let them know about my file cleanup initiative. In some cases, I had not interacted with these folks in years, so it gave me a good opportunity to find out what they were up to. I started my law practice in 2006, so I have been fortunate to work with dozens of clients.
One of the letters I sent via email to one of my first clients bounced back, so I sent a physical copy and emailed his wife, who, when I worked with the company, was the Director of Operations/ second in command. I was saddened to learn, via her response, that her husband, the former CEO, passed away a year ago. I remember our first meeting so distinctly.   I was on the first leg of a journey to travel abroad, so this flight was from Denver International Airport to JFK in New York, from which I would grab the next leg to Europe. Somehow, I was grateful to be seated in the exit row with extra room for my long legs. The book I had brought to read on the plane (this was 2006, pre-airplane WiFi) was not particularly engrossing, and I noticed that my tall, well dressed seatmate had his brows furrowed, trying to complete a crossword puzzle. I asked him if he liked word games, and he removed his Bose headphones to reply yes. I had attended a fundraising event the evening before, featuring mini Boggle games as a parting gift, so I had one in my bag. I asked him if he would be interested in playing. Much to my surprise, he noted that he had never before played Boggle, but would be open to learning.
Time passed quickly with the Boggle game to distract us, and eventually we started talking about more than the words we could form with the little tiles inside the box. It just so happened that he ran a technology company related to the cable industry, and was on his way to the east coast to interview new attorneys to help the company.   I remember feeling a sense of kismet, as I had recently launched my practice focusing on technology and business law after a brief stint doing legal recruiting and later supervising a team of attorneys on a document review for a securities fraud matter.   By the time the wheels touched down, we had exchanged business cards and promises to meet when we both returned to Denver. Sure enough, we met upon our return and his company became one of my first clients, which kept me pretty busy that first year, and I learned a lot about the laws relating to the theft of cable services.
Client files may just be manila folders with papers and words inside, but as I open each one, I remember the clients and my unique relationship with each, the excitement of helping so many small businesses.  To some, I know I was able to provide a sense of comfort and security when they needed a listening ear or affirmation that they were on the right track.  Others were looking for someone to advocate their interests in a situation that was unjust.  It truly has been my pleasure to help these clients, and I hope to do so for many others in years to come.