As a young man, I aspired to fame. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, I attended an Ivy League college and law school. Surely, I thought, the rest would follow: Wall Street lawyer, member of the state legislature, governor of New York, the presidency.
Things did not work out this way.
As a lawyer involved in commercial matters, I felt I was going against my grain, having little to contribute to the world of business; a world, I should add, I have never looked down upon. Just the reverse. Anyone employing people and paying them a fair wage, in my view, makes an immense contribution to society.
Nor am I litigious by temperament, a distinct disadvantage for a lawyer. In fact, I dislike arguments, though I appreciate they are as much a part of life as the rotation of the earth.
I came to realize that the star I was born under had made me one part lawyer and one part social worker. For the past 18 years, I have been developing programs to provide free civil legal services to poor people in New York City, thereby satisfying both inclinations.
As much as I enjoy my work, one of its attractions is that it is not all-consuming, like so many jobs. I have time to enjoy family and friends, pursue civic activities, read, write, mull, travel, listen to music, play sports.
And not one of these pleasures is subject to taxation under the Internal Revenue Code.
After 40 years as a lawyer, the only public position I hold is that of notary public. This is the person in whose presence you sign your name on documents. Lawyers, florists, and other nice people serve as notaries.
Looking back, I have no complaints that my life veered from the presidential path.