|I'm back. And it is great to be back.|
I took down The Audient Files last May because I was exploring my career options. I looked at moving to Columbus, I looked at staying in Cleveland. I looked at going to another law firm, I looked at going in-house with a corporate legal department. I took down my old blog and all of its archives because I didn't want to offer up my occasionally crass observations as representative of what I am all about. Even though at times it may well have been reasonably accurate.
Over the holidays, I did some serious soul searching. I had applied to various places (both in Cleveland and Columbus), had interviews, had opportunities presented to me, and none of them were suitable. And I realized that it was because none of it was what I wanted. I really didn't want to work in-house for an insurance company, or toil away thanklessly as an associate making some other guy look good. What I wanted, what I have always wanted, was to practice law on my own.
Back in 1999, I left a firm where I'd been an associate for over two years because I was restless. I printed up business cards, opened bank accounts, got some file cabinets, and started scaring up some cases. I'd been at it for a couple of weeks when I was approached by a law clerk of a local judge who was looking for her next law clerk. I met with the judge, and she offered me the position. I liked her, and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Besides, I'd been an attorney for barely three years, and I thought this would be a great way to grow professionally – and it was.
When I finished my term at the court, I did what most outgoing law clerks/staff attorneys do: I parlayed my experience at the court into an associate position at a reputable law firm. At the time, it did seem like the right thing to do. And it worked for me for awhile. But ultimately, I knew that my head and heart were elsewhere.
Which brings me back to that holiday soul searching. I was only 24 when I sat for the bar, and I've been that young kid attorney now for about a third of my life. And while I've done some wonderful things, things I'm proud of, things that helped some people who really needed help, I realized that I had fallen into a bit of a rut. And that if I wanted to reach the next level, I was going to have to leave the relative safety and shelter of the law firm and once again do what I had originally set out to do almost ten years ago: hang up my own shingle.
I thought about the bad economy. Why not wait for a sunnier day? But the truth is, I could always have found reasons to wait. Other times, it was some big case that was going to trial that I wanted to see through, or some such thing. I decided that there was no better time than now – for if not now, when? In another ten years? Or would I wait till I had tuition bills to pay for the kids? Or to have a sick parent in a nursing home? No, there is no better time than the present, the now, to live the life I want.
The difference now is that I have so much more experience than when I first tried this. I have the support of my wife and family. I have a small (and hopefully soon to be growing) group of great clients. And most of all, I have never felt better, and cannot ever remember being more invigorated about the practice of law than I am now. For years I wrote this blog as a side project. I kept my name off of it because I thought that I needed to keep a separate identity from my professional life. That ends now. And whether you know me as "Audient" – the one who listens (and sometimes rants) – or if you know me as Michael Dylan Brennan, attorney at law – the one who listens, solves problems, and seeks justice – this is who I am, who I've been, and who I will be.