On Being a Former Lawyer and Having the Right Coach

It’s impossible to overstate how valuable it is to have someone in your corner who “gets it” when you’re in a role that doesn’t make you happy. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have my wife, Sarah Cottrell, in my corner throughout my career. As many of you know, we met in law school, and we both practiced at the same large firm at the starts of our careers. She then went through a couple of other legal jobs, ultimately practicing for ten years before leaving the law entirely.

What you may not know is that Sarah has started a business, Former Lawyer, helping unhappy lawyers ditch their jobs and find careers and lives that they love. I may be biased, but I can’t recommend her enough as a coach and cheerleader for anyone in that situation.

You can check out Sarah’s website, podcast, newsletter, and YouTube channel by visiting the Former Lawyer website.

Career Change

I have major personal news: March 18 was my last day of practicing law! As of yesterday, I am now a Legal Engineer at Ironclad, the leading digital contracting and contract lifecycle management platform. I’m really excited about the platform, the people, the culture, and the wonderful opportunity to fully utilize my backgrounds in software development and in law!

Ironclad, Inc. logo

I’ve been an attorney since 2008, and I first started thinking about law school in early 2004, so a huge percentage of my adult life has centered on the law. I’ve had a lot of great experiences studying law, becoming an attorney, and being an attorney. Many of the cases I’ve worked on have been extremely important and deeply satisfying. Many of the people I’ve worked with are warm, kind, brilliant, and incredibly talented people whom I call mentors and friends to this day. And being an attorney has profoundly shaped how I think and live in the world; many of those changes are good.

Unfortunately, I also found the practice of law very draining. Many cases are not ultimately terribly satisfying, and much of the work is not fulfilling. The always-on nature of firm practice, the fact that the standard for literally everything that goes “out the door” is perfection, and the realities of how the profession operates have been mentally and emotionally exhausting. For all the good experiences I had in my thirteen-year-plus legal career, I also had many negative experiences with frankly toxic personalities and environments. It was not healthy for me physically or mentally, and it was time for a change.

I’m very excited about this next step in my career.

How to Disable Remote Content in Junk Mail Folders in the MacOS Mail App

I just spent a whole afternoon trying to figure out how to get the stock MacOS Mail app to show images automatically except in the Junk folder(s). I finally got it, so I’m sharing my results for anyone else who would benefit from this.

Note: this solution depends on the app Keyboard Maestro, which I use heavily in my daily workflow.

The Mail Preferences pane (under “Viewing”) gives the option to “Load remote content in messages” or not, regardless of the folder. (By default, it hides remote content, including images, in mail the app itself considers junk, but that is pretty limiting and will not play nicely with any external spam filtering.)

There did not appear to be any built in AppleScript support for changing this option without interacting with the preferences pane, but it turns out there is; it’s just not officially documented. The option is called download html attachments in AppleScript. So, all you need is a couple of if actions to figure out whether to toggle the setting and a few lines of AppleScript to toggle it when necessary.

Here’s my macro:

Note: one piece of this got cut off, namely the text in the second if condition. The text that got cut off is:

^(General|Accounts|Junk Mail|Fonts & Colors|Viewing|Composing|Signatures|Rules)$

This prevents the setting from changing just because you have the Preferences open.

I hope this helps somebody else! Feedback is welcome.

Election 2020: Mea Culpa and Taking out the Trash

After every presidential election since the first one in which I got to vote, I have posted some thoughts on this blog or in various other places on the ‘net. You can read the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 posts on this site; the 2000 post and a longer 2004 post have apparently been lost to the mists of time. This is my 2020 wrap-up.


As has become my tradition, I’m popping back on here to write up a few thoughts on the election. Only, this year, it’s going to be very different.

I won’t be talking about how I voted. I won’t be talking about how I feel about the outcome, except to say that, as I write this, it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected to the offices of President and Vice President, respectively. I have yet to see or hear of any shred of anything resembling evidence to the contrary, despite the many wild claims, slanderous allegations, and conspiracy theories being thrown about. Counting votes cast before an election ends is not “stealing” anything or “cheating,” even if some of the counting happens after the voting stops (as it literally always does). A shift, during the counting, in the balance of votes between a candidate who discouraged early voting and one who encouraged it is evidence of nothing except that actions have consequences; it hardly indicates fraud or other misbehavior.

I also won’t be talking about how I feel about the winning ticket or their policies or about how I feel about the losing ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence or their policies. If you know me offline, you may already know my thoughts on those topics, but I’m not going to post them publicly for many reasons.

What I do want to talk about, briefly, is the incredible division in the United States right now. This can’t continue, because a country can’t continue when it has been this destabilized, unless it reverses course quickly and enthusiastically. It has been incredibly hard to watch the rise of completely irrational conspiracy theories, slander of various kinds, and extremism. That’s not to mention the many false, theologically unsound, and completely unreasoned statements I’ve seen along the lines of, “You can’t be a Christian and vote for Trump,” “You can’t be a Christian and not vote for Trump,” “You can’t be a Christian and vote for Biden,” or, “You can’t be a Christian and not vote for Biden.” You’re probably sick of all of this, too—at least, I hope you are—so I’m not going to rehash everything so many good thinkers and writers have said about how divided we are, how gross many of the divisions are, how we got here, or how to make it better, if that’s even possible.

I am going to say this: I’m sorry for my role in getting us here. I have tried, especially over the last decade, to maintain a very even, respectful, fair, and civil tone on here. To my shame, that was not always true. I wrote some very divisive, unkind, poorly supported things in some earlier years, especially in my 20s, even as I prided myself on steering clear of the worst conspiracy theories and forms of misinformation. But my hands were not clean. Not even close.

Part of the problem is that I listened to some of the wrong people to get my facts. Especially in my early 20s, I took some people seriously who did not deserve then—and, frankly, deserve even less in 2020—to be taken seriously. I might tell myself, “This blogger puts out a lot of great stuff and is a great aggregator of news, even if some of her views are over the top,” or, “These people have a professional reputation outside of politics to uphold, so their report of these [alleged] facts is surely at least basically honest.” That, alas, is not a very good way to think about the internet, talk radio, television, or life in general.

Over time, especially over the last couple of years, I have removed a large number of old posts from this site. Most of them were political in nature. In many cases, they no longer represent my views on this or that topic or simply stated my views in a way I would not stand by today. Many dated from the early 2000s, when this blog (like many others) served much the same role Twitter or Instagram might now: the post might be no more than a link or image, and many of those links or images went offline long ago. In some cases, I don’t even know what the post was about or what the link pointed to.

In short, in twenty years, this blog accumulated a lot of clutter and debris that has become either useless or harmful, with no value even for archival purposes. I don’t want to leave even a link up in some cases because I do not want to drive even one more visitor to certain sites or one more listener to certain voices. So, I’ve taken down a lot of junk and cleaned up my blog, and I have revised a few posts here and there to correct inaccurate statements or remove broken links or links to unreliable information. That process is by no means done; I’m still taking out the trash as I find it.

All that said, I do owe some people apologies. Most notably, I think I owe an apology to former Secretary of State John Kerry. While I never said anything about him that I knew to be false, I disseminated some links and statements in connection with the 2004 election that I no longer believe were accurate or fair. And I apologize to everyone for the role I have played over the years in boosting bad ideas and dishonest actors and in thus helping to bring about some of the divisions we see in the United States today. I am sorry. I am working—on here and on my social media accounts—to consistently, honestly, carefully disseminate only the truth and fair analysis. As a Christian, I am absolutely committed to truth, love for my neighbor, and grace, and that extends to how I conduct myself online. Alas, living well, online or off, is a learning process, and I haven’t always gotten it right. I am sorry.

Back to this election: good grief. I can’t discuss here the entire history of the breakdown in our society that has led to alternate realities in which some people can be absolutely certain of an observable, verifiable, fact, and others absolutely certain of the opposite “fact.” But I do know that each presidential election from 2000 to the present has featured more and more conspiracy theories, slander, character assassination, and general dishonesty. Now would be a good time, if it’s not too late, for us all to commit to dealing honestly and fairly with those who do not see things the way we do. If we can’t at least reestablish a shared understanding of reality—a more or less shared ontology and epistemology—things look bleak indeed. And if we are to have any hope of that, we must stop lying about each other, declaring people are heretics (or worse) for their political opinions, and choosing to believe the worst about each other.

I don’t put my trust in earthly leaders. (See Psalm 146:3-4.) And I cannot name a single politician or other leader who speaks perfectly for me on every issue or even every issue I consider important. I will no doubt have many disagreements with everyone elected or reelected to any public office this week, as with everyone who has gone before them. But I do commit to—and hope we can all commit to—trying to treat them and everyone else with civility, charity, and respect, no matter how much I may dislike certain opinions.

Here’s hoping the next four years represent a period of healing and repair from the hatred and divisions accumulated over the last four.


Image by Bianca Mentil from Pixabay

Image

I’ve been thinking a lot about events in the news, especially about how indifferent we can become when people who are suffering aren’t just like us.

So, I wrote something and wanted to share it. I haven’t performed any of my own music for any audience other than my kids in almost 20 years, but here goes…

Lyrics:

“Image”
Ed Cottrell
2020

A little dust and the breath of life
And He made us out of clay.
He formed us in His image and
It will never pass away.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
We must all walk down that way.
Yet I talk about all of my “rights,”
I have no time for you today.

My brother’s face and my sister’s hand,
From them both I turn aside.
Like mine but colored differently,
If my eyes they have not lied.
I think the image that matters most
Is the one on your outside.
So I won’t take your pleading hand
Or put death to all my pride.

Oh, God, Your name I profaned again today!
The widow, fatherless, and poor I simply cast away.
Have mercy on me, but don’t ask me, Lord, to change.
This mirror suits me just fine, but Your image I won’t face.

The news today has more numbers,
Stories of the price we’ve paid.
The numbers, they don’t move me, and
The stories, I can’t relate.
Unborn or old, woman, man, or child,
Or a different shade than me:
I think that I get to decide
Who will stand, who bend the knee.

Life’s journey’s full of stepping stones,
On each my foot shall stand.
I don’t glance down, so I won’t see,
Faces crying, “I am a man!”
I don’t fit the description,
So I’ll just go about my day,
Focus on things more comfortable.
Yes, it’s easier that way.

Oh, God, Your name I profaned again today!
The widow, fatherless, and poor I simply cast away.
Have mercy on me, but don’t ask me, Lord, to change.
This mirror suits me just fine, but Your image I won’t face.

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