Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Many senior professionals in San Diego are far from ready to call it a day.

I talk to them about it in oncology labs and retirement residences, in meetings and restaurants. They want to work!

Well, this being San Diego … maybe not at full speed.

But take senior Herb Klein. We talked in a Scripps oncology lab, discussing business while he received an infusion. Herb is on a walker, and looked his age, hooked up as he was to the infusion mechanism. But he’s keeping his hand in for now by advising the national office of the American Enterprise Institute on conservative politics, much as he once did in the communications office of the Nixon White House.

Or Frances Venn. Frances is a cancer survivor in her early 80s. For many years a principal in the San Diego school system, she works now, both here and in Sacramento, to help the League of Women Voters develop legislative proposals for improving the California schools.

Please don’t forget my good friend Hugh Bradner. Almost 90, he spent a good part of last month fighting his way through airports to confer in Washington D.C. with a dozen other physicists from the group that set up Los Alamos in the early 1940s, and perfected the atomic bomb. The bomb was not very controversial then. It seemed necessary to end the other slaughter of the time. Brad and company know it’s not that way now, and they are working at the request of the National Academy of Sciences to develop constructive approaches to what has happened in the world since they first made those early moves.

Neil Morgan writes now for the Voice of San Diego; Peter Farrell teaches cello (he was a modern music professor at the University of California, San Diego); Richard Hopkins serves in the active priesthood at Our Mother of Confidence Catholic Church on Governor Drive; Joe Keenan has moved from accounting to being a “godsend” of a paralegal to Ken Hoyt’s law firm in El Cajon; and Paul Meyer, a 61-year-old lawyer, plans to work now in history, music and art. Just yesterday he was a partner at Latham and Watkins.

Deborah Szekely manages a museum, manages a spa, works in Democratic political circles – what doesn’t she do? Martha Longenecker has moved from managing the Mingei to working actively as chairman of its board. Both women are well into their 80s. Although women professionals don’t appear in large numbers in this generation, they seem disproportionately anxious to finish what they’ve started. It was so much trouble to get there, they are not planning to let go, no matter what happens.

Among younger seniors, both men and women, retirement at the official age of 55 is seen by many, especially by women, as a joke. Like John Roberts and the various women judges being named or considered to the U.S. Supreme Court, they are now at least 50, and they see themselves as just beginning professional life.

One thing that makes this realistic in San Diego, in the legal profession anyway, is a new group of rules that authorize seniors (and others) to practice law in California if they are already members in good standing of other state and federal bars. These are Supreme Court Rules Numbers 964, 965, 966 and 967. There are a lot of newcomers in San Diego, like me, to whom these rules are a great gift.

In the past, in states such as California and Florida, reciprocity like this has been refused and the bar pass rate has also been set unrealistically low, to prevent undue competition for local practitioners. It is a point of pride with the California state bar that this is no longer the case. Although only three of the less lucrative areas of practice are now authorized for reciprocal treatment – in-house counsel, legal services and pro hoc vice court appearances – they expect there will be more. Besides, money, for professional seniors, is not too often the point. Seniors mainly want to use their talents. And San Diego is a good place for that. You don’t need to go to the office in a snowstorm.

You do, however, need transportation. That’s a big missing link in San Diego. More about that perhaps in a future column.

More also probably about Peter Irons, Supreme Court scholar and professor emeritus at UCSD; about Tim Barnett, a marine research physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who has spent a good part of his life studying global warming; about Lenox Tierney, student of Buddhism and Asian curator at the Mingei; and more.

For now, I think I’ll take a nap.

I love hearing from you. What kind of work do you do? Please e-mail me at

Louise Jacobs recently retired to San Diego after a legal career in Washington, D.C.

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