Pat Landers, JD, DVM
Life is unpredictable.Â Around the year 2000, I was entering my eighth year at a Providence civil defense firm where I worked with some very talented lawyers and made my life’s best friendships. Like most lawyers, there were parts of the career I loved (such as the jury trials and the camaraderie of the small Rhode Island bar), and parts I didn’t (the billable hour and judicial decisions too often born out of practicality than precedent).
At that point, a little white stray cat barged his way into my life, despite my best efforts to keep him out. Had he been healthy, I’d probably still be a practicing lawyer. But he wasn’t–he had FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), the feline version of AIDS. Over the next few years, he and I spent a considerable amount of time seeing veterinary specialists to tamp out his health fires as they arose. An FIV cat can live a normal life span with an attentive owner, and my own beloved lived to about 15.
Around this time, I couldn’t help but notice that my single favorite aspect of the legal career–trying cases–really began to dry up. There were lots of structural reasons for this, but the upshot was that the career, as I knew it, wasn’t as much fun. So, I wondered if a curve ball like vet school was really brilliant and bold, or idiotic.
Some of my BC Law classmates who knew me well will remember that I often talked, even way back when, about combining law and science. I spent a few years thinking I was too old to go back to vet school, and then some years thinking I could do it, all the while practicing law in Providence and Boston. And then, voila! I spent four years at Tufts-Cummings Vet actually doing it.
Now I’m a practicing veterinarian in three states. My chief interest is emergency medicine, though I do some general practice occasionally. Funny thing is I feel mostly like a social worker in my new career. Few owners are prepared for the emotional and financial realities of a suddenly sick pet. A caring and sympathetic ear and soundboard can greatly assist owners in these situations. It’s what I strive to be every day.
And, yes, I’m still working on combining law and medicine in some way. Haven’t figured that out yet.Â Hopefully I’ll update you all on my progress on that front when we prepare for our 50th. After all, life is unpredictable.