Sam’s favorite audition song from last year was “Purpose” from Avenue Q. While the show itself is completely inappropriate for kids (and, therefore, something that Sam has entirely watched on You Tube), the song is one of my favorites. In it, a young man named Princeton (played by a puppet; you just have to have seen it to understand) has just graduated college and is deciding what to do next with his life. He sings about how he knows that his life has a purpose, he just doesn’t know what it is yet.

I have spent the last 15 years defending the people of Maricopa County who have been accused of a variety of crimes. I started out working full-time, but after I had Sam, the office allowed me and my co-worker Stacey to have the very first job-share position in our office. We were able to continue to work as attorneys, but also to balance our new roles as moms (Stacey had her son Jack at the same time I had Sam.) After I had Lauren, I wanted to go back to work again, and was allowed an incredible opportunity to work only 2 days a week. I switched over to doing misdemeanors only, but it was still the perfect balance that I really enjoyed.

Until the last couple of years. As you may have heard, Arizona is not the easiest place to practice criminal law. We have Sheriff Joe, who is just about the most ridiculous “sheriff” in the land. Forget about the pink jumpsuits and green meat and outdoor jails in the heat. That is just the start of it. We also have Prosecutors who practice law based on “policies” created by an incredibly conservative County Attorney with zero flexibility. And we have many police officers that have been shown to be incredibly racist. It is so hard to work in an angry, negative environment. I have found that as the years go by, the prosecutors care less and less about who the actual person is beyond the word “defendant.” They are numbers & statistics, not people.

Our DUI laws are the toughest in the nation. Being that I mostly only do DUI law, it has gotten progressively more difficult to defend these cases. I also do order of protection violation cases, many of which are the biggest waste of AZ taxpayer money I’ve ever seen. The orders are usually based on a scorned lover, making up a story so that a father or mother cannot see their child. They are heartbreaking, especially because most do not involve any violence. Just a mom or dad wanting to give their child a birthday card. Arizona prosecutors won’t ever drop charges like these, because they get awarded for each case they win, regardless if the case even had merit.

Watching my former co-workers defend the Jodi Arias case these past few months, I was struck with many things. One of which is why in the world people cared so much about this case. Seriously? What was so interesting about it? And two was watching them fight so hard, to the point of exhaustion, probably not wanting to do as much as they had to do. I have had many clients I did not particularly like, and it’s hard to give so much of your life to a case or a client like that. They did a great job with what they had to work with.

This is the first time in 15 years I have not worked, besides each maternity leave. It has given me 4 months to think. Think about what my purpose is in this world. What I want my legacy to be. What I’m supposed to do next to help Sam and his career. What can I do next to help make the world a better place. When you see a young friend pass away suddenly as I did this year, it makes you re-think the second half of your life. If I died today, would I be happy with who I was and what I was doing? After 4 months of soul searching, the answer was a resounding no.

And so, today, I tearfully resigned from my job. I have lots of plans of what I want to do. I want to become a writer. I want to help Sam get the most out of his career by being able to take him wherever he needs to go to continue to achieve his dream. I want to be there for all my children’s dreams. And I will shortly be announcing the most incredible project that I have been working on. A project that combines everything I love to do all wrapped up together. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I will need to sacrifice a bit to do so, but I would rather give up my gym membership or weekly manicures in favor of something that will beautify my soul more than my body. Being surrounded by people living out their dreams has inspired me, at age 41, to do the same. Am I scared? Absolutely. But I’d rather try now than never know if I could have done it at all. Change is tough. But it is only when you leap that you figure out if you are going to fly. (I just made that up.)

So, for now, I, like Princeton the puppet, am gong to set out there in this world to find my purpose. “Gotta find out, don’t wanna wait, gotta make sure that my life will be great. Gotta find my purpose, before it’s too late.”



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2 Responses to Purpose

  1. I will miss you more than I can say.

  2. allison cohen says:

    Good for you Al! I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to experiencing your flight through your writings. 🙂

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