The firm was very busy at the time, and I was hired in part to help handle the growing workload. Since I was a new attorney in the department, I didn’t want to get a reputation for turning away work. So I took on more projects than I could handle in a normal fifty-hour week. Most litigation projects also come with court-imposed deadlines, so there is limited flexibility in scheduling completion of your work.
During a particular two-month period, I was working an average of about 80 hours per week preparing a case for trial. The work was exciting but exhausting. The worst part was the time I had to spend away from my two precious daughters—a two-year-old and a newborn.
One morning, I kissed my wife and daughters goodbye and headed toward the door for another twelve-hour workday. My two-year-old daughter wrapped her arms around my leg, held on, and wailed, “don’t go!” I had court deadlines to meet, so I peeled her arms away and walked out the door.
Walking away from my daughter, who was distraught because of my continual absence, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and made that the worst morning of my life. From that point on, I made a more diligent effort to manage my workload better, so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time away from my family.
This experience led to one of the themes in Until Murder Do Us Part—the cost of sacrificing family for career. The incident was also the inspiration for a scene in Chapter 9 in which the main character, Mike, was visiting his daughter, Victoria, one weekend at her grandparents’ home in New Jersey, where she was staying while her father faced the criminal charges related to the death of her mother. When Mike had to leave Monday morning to face a court hearing on the murder charges against him, he had to pry himself away from his sobbing daughter and walk out the door. The scene closes with Mike’s realization that, “facing prosecution for murder would be easy compared to walking away from his daughter like that.”