Goodbye John

Good Bye John       

Life isn’t what you thought it would be. For example; I expected, at this stage in my professional life, to be easing myself into a comfortable chair behind the leather upholstered desk of my City Centre office, making the few phone calls to dearly loved clients and arranging a gentle mid week game of golf. Not hunkering into my thermal coat, in my grey tracksuit bottoms tapping into a lap top in my basement office (It is luxuriously appointed, I might add.)  Who’d have thought?

Such has been the transformation of our legal working lives. Thanks to Technology the way Law is available to people has been radically transformed. Every statute every law, every green paper, every white paper, every appeal, every judicial notice is recorded and available somewhere on line and on the internet.

Meaning, the necessity for a heaving bookcase, with weighty legal tomes, that need to be refreshed every year, at a cost of thousands of pounds, has been abolished. The biggest Law Library in the World is available at the press of a button on your laptop.

And this has been liberating to the working lawyer and I am grateful. So liberating we don’t need huge glass offices and desks and bookcases and secretaries and paralegals. We can do everything ourselves for you. Things have changed and I am grateful.

I am also grateful to my pal John. John who in 2008 offered my a job at a very low point in my career. Law has not always been the magic carpet ride I’d expected. In fact, it was a slippery magic carpet that I’d fallen off in May 2008. With 4 young children and a wife to support. So when John offered me a job, with a reasonable basic salary and achievable, generous bonus. I was delighted to say; yeah mate. I’ll do that.

And jobs have got thinner on the ground since 2008 in the legal profession.

Anyway. After signing on with John I was impressed that his business was feeding 30 employees very happily. His was a decent firm doing a proper job of personal injury claimant work in Manchester. I left him to set up on my own a few years later and was grateful for the start, or reboot, he gave me.

We kept in touch when John kindly took some files from me, when I’d dabbled in the new world of personal injury claimant work. Thanks for that John. His advice to me at the time (this was 2011) was to “Get out of Law, pack it in, get a job at Tesco’s, do anything, stack shelves. Get out.” I knew what he meant, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just at that stage.

November 2019. My self and a friend look at notices that refer to the suicide of John. I’m convulsed with shock and nausea. His children will be 9 and 11 years old. How could John have imagined his family and children would be better off without him in their lives. What had happened to the decent family guy in the last 8 years to make him decide to end his life? No one I know knew anything about his end. I can only imagine that life running a legal practice, dealing with claimant personal injury cases has become impossible to manage. The changes seen in this area of law have been dramatic and unrelenting. Abolishing the ability of practices to deal with Claims Management Companies was the equivalent of closing their access to work. Meaning John’s practice and all the staff would have had to reinvent themselves or lose their jobs.

I don’t know what happened. But I do know John decided to end it all. Taking his life in 2017. I can only think that the changing face of law and the stresses and strains of running a big firm, being responsible for everyone’s livelihoods and welfare proved too much for the lad. And the only way out was the one he chose. To end it all. I’m sorry John. I wish I’d seen you before I heard the news.

So the grass always looks greener. Others lives rosier and you never fully appreciate what you’ve got. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for one of the good guys. I can’t say that about most of the people I’ve met in Law. Things don’t work out for everyone. Goodbye John. You were a good guy and deserved a long happy life. I’m so sorry mate