SIOUX CITY | For some of us, clearing out office cabinets and shredding documents compiled during a lengthy career could be a sad, depressing task.
Jim Redmond has found it humorous to page through files he accumulated during his 43-year legal career.
"I kept an awful lot of paper. Sometimes I'm chuckling remembering some of the things we did 30 years ago," Redmond said of the memories that have surfaced while clearing out the file cabinets in his Heidman Law Firm office.
The paper purge revealed old partnership agreements from the 1970s and '80s, a reminder that for many years, he and his law partners only had verbal agreements. It's hard to believe that lawyers, of all people, wouldn't have documented it.
"I told them it might be a good idea if we wrote this down," said Redmond, laughing about the thought of not having a written agreement.
It would probably be impossible to count the number of agreements, settlements and other legal documents Redmond has written since joining the firm in 1974. There won't be many more, however. Redmond, a senior partner at the firm, will retire at the end of the year.
He'll retain the title "of counsel" and still have an office in the firm's building on Historic Fourth Street, but he said that mostly means he'll have a place to go to drink coffee and visit with longtime colleagues, maybe lend advice if asked. He's not going to become a part-time lawyer, taking on a case here and there.
"I didn't want to work part time," he said. "I certainly won't be here every day."
A Sioux City native and 1965 Bishop Heelan graduate, Redmond didn't initially see his career taking this path.
After spending two years in the Army -- 13 months in Vietnam -- after high school, Redmond attended Briar Cliff College (now University), intending to be an architect. Then he took a business law class.
"I took this business law course and I really liked it," he said. "I thought this is something I can do."
He realized that as long as there are businesses, there will be disputes requiring the assistance of lawyers to settle. So he changed his plans, graduating from Briar Cliff in 1971 and receiving a law degree from Marquette University in 1973. In the midst of a clerkship with Justice Connor T. Hansen on the Wisconsin Supreme Court after receiving his degree, Redmond was home for Christmas and thought he'd talk to some of Sioux City's prominent attorneys about legal opportunities in his home town.
What he heard wasn't that encouraging, but a couple months later, John Gleysteen was offering him a job at the firm that would eventually, after a number of name changes, become Heidman Law Firm.
Coming home hadn't really been on Redmond's radar, nor his wife, Daphne's. But the more they thought about it, the more sense it made. Their families both were from Sioux City. They had siblings and other relatives living here, too.
"I just thought, I like the idea," Redmond.
They came home in 1974, and never left.
In that time, Redmond has seen the firm grow into one of western Iowa's largest. When he started, the firm specialized in insurance defense but has since branched out into nearly every area of law. Redmond himself practiced in several areas of law during his career.
"I just like to do a little bit of everything," he said.
Redmond looked toward the example Gleysteen set for retirement. Redmond watched as Gleysteen retired when he turned 70 and decided then that he'd do the same.
His colleagues convinced him to stay on a few extra months past his 70th birthday this summer. Redmond said it was time to enjoy more in life than the long hours and weekends spent at the office.
"I didn't want to do this forever," he said. "We are a busy firm. If you're going to do your job the way you should, you're going to be a busy lawyer."
Come Jan. 1, he'll transition from busy lawyer into full-time retiree. He and Daphne, a retired teacher, plan to travel and spend more time at their place in Okoboji. Redmond wouldn't mind once again riding his motorcycle to the annual Sturgis, South Dakota, bike rally. He might take up golf.
"I live on a golf course that I've never played," he said.
He's happy to have many retirement options, just as he appreciated the many career options that his law practice offered him.
"We had a great, great group of people, partners and staff people," Redmond said. "You can't imagine how lucky you are until you look back at your career and say, 'Wow.'
"I got lucky."