Behind The Book: Janet Kole

A few years ago, I discovered that I don’t like practicing law any more. I used to love my work and my clients. But the days are gone when providing legal advice is a service. Now, it is a business, and a cutthroat one at that.

In order to do something about my dissatisfaction, I transformed myself into a full-time writer. I retired from my mid-size law firm, and decided to write and sell books. I’ve never regretted my decision for a minute.

After 30 years of practicing law, mostly in big firms, I became a stay at home writer. I write humorous but serious guides for young lawyers. I also just published my second novel, the first in what will be a continuing series. I dropped every bar membership and every bar association membership (except, of course, the American Bar Association). I no longer have Continuing Legal Education requirements, and I no longer practice law. Do I miss being a lawyer? God, no.

Before I retired from the practice of law, I was tempted to murder some of my law partners. I believe they returned the favor. Living in a big firm is like being part of some incredibly dysfunctional family, and the passions aroused in the lawyer’s breast are not unlike those aroused in the heart of an abused spouse.

Most lawyers, however, don’t kill each other. Our weapons are usually words. And I think we can all attest to the fact that the old rubric about “sticks and stones” is wrong. Words can hurt you. But they are rarely fatal.

So after over 30 years of practicing law, and watching the profession I love devolve into a form of insanity, I retired. With relief. And I transmuted what I have witnessed over the years into fiction, in a mystery novel, Suggestion of Death, published in 2011. Not surprisingly, in that book, lawyers murder each other. I exorcised that murderous feeling after SOD was published, but discovered that I have the chops for writing mysteries. My second novel, The Smell of Money, was published this year, and this time the hero is a lawyer.

Janet S. Kole