Lawyer's retirement from longtime law practice is chronicled in daughter's documentary

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A documentary filmmaker and journalist who once worked for the New York Times has chronicled her 87-year-old father’s retirement from law practice in a short film premiering this month.

The film is titled Period. New Paragraph after the words the lawyer used while speaking into a Dictaphone, the New York Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. The film by Sarah Kramer follows her father, Herbert Kramer, as he closes down his law office at the end of a 60-year career.

Herbert Kramer often worked 60 hours a week at a job he loved. Many lawyers are bored or unhappy, he said, but “I looked forward to grabbing a Dictaphone. … I could picture the words” while speaking.

In the film, he packs up old files and talks about his approach to law. “When I send something out, I am sending out something that says this is my best product,” he says. “This is my best language, this is my best spelling. This is who I am.”

Herbert Kramer told the New York Law Journal he started out as a chemist but he found the work boring. He took an aptitude test and learned he was good with language. He decided on a legal career and graduated from New York University’s law school in 1953.

Herbert Kramer had to rely on an assistant to finish cleaning out his law office after one of his kidneys failed. He now receives dialysis and spends time at home, where he has discovered a liking for Scandinavian crime fiction.

He told the New York Law Journal he initially thought the film was for family and friends. “I never dreamed it would have become a professional film good enough to be seen by others,” he told the New York Law Journal. “If I had known, I would have dressed better and trimmed my beard.”

The 13-minute, 50-second film will be shown at the New York Jewish Film Festival on Jan. 18 and 19.

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