The newsLINK Group - The Importance of Community Involvement

Editorial Library Category: Legal | Professional Development Topics: Community Involvement Title: The Importance of Community Involvement Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: When U.S. Senior Circuit Judge Frank M. Coffin (1919 to 2009) gave the keynote address at the Boston University School of Law on January 8, 1990, he quoted the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandels (1856 to 1941), who once said, “No hermit can be a great lawyer, least of all a commercial lawyer. When from a knowledge of the law, you pass to its application, the needs of a full knowledge of men and of their affairs [become] even more apparent.” His words still resonate today. Editorial: The Importance of Community Involvement 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 When U.S. Senior Circuit Judge Frank M. Coffin (1919 to 2009) gave the keynote address at the Boston University School of Law on January 8, 1990, he quoted the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856 to 1941), who once said, "No hermit can be a great lawyer, least of all a commercial lawyer. When from a knowledge of the law, you pass to its application, the needs of a full knowledge of men and of their affairs [become] even more apparent.” His words still resonate today. Community involvement through pro bono work is a particularly effective way for lawyers to develop intangible qualities of compassion, understanding, confidence, and perspective. That is one of the important reasons why Van Cott has always supported it. Not only is work within the community the right kind of work to be doing, it also develops the right kind of lawyers. The More Things Change … The Internet has changed the world since 1990. As part of that change, it has also changed the way people interact with each other. But there is one thing it has not, and cannot, alter. Even though the Internet can strengthen an existing relationship, it does not replace the rules that are the foundation for any good friendship. Blogging, tweeting, liking, and e-mailing are no substitute for the old-fashioned concept of giving back to your community through the service you donate because you want to make a difference instead of a dollar. Some things cannot be bought, and there are times when you shouldn’t be selling, either. That’s as true for a young lawyer who is just starting the practice of law as it is for someone more experienced. In a way, the Internet has clarified a few things. Community involvement is not the fast track to success, even though it can lead to solid, long-term business relationships that come about as a result of trust and shared interests. If you want to market yourself, for example, there are certainly better ways of doing that through the cyber universe than by doing anything as lacking in glamour as the hard, possibly anonymous, work that can go into community service. As a result of this shift, those who used community service in the past with ulterior motives, because they want to get ahead, are more interested today in the extremely effective methods made available to them through the recent explosion of social media. That’s fine. But not everyone has ulterior motives. Community involvement has some important benefits: It gets lawyers out of their comfort zone and provides them with a glimpse into other worlds that are different from their own. If lawyers decide to support a charity, join a service organization of some kind, volunteer at a hospital, or pick some other cause that is important to them, it costs money and time, but it also means doing worthwhile work and having conversations about something other than just the law, the next career move, or what’s going on in the office. That is a good and healthy thing for anyone (not just lawyers) to experience. It helps lawyers to become better people. This may sound idealistic. However, most people will admit (once they get a few decades under their belt) that one of the characteristics of youth is a real, sometimes subtle, selfishness. It has more to do with inexperience than anything else. Part of maturing, however, is realizing how much other people matter, and the particular joy in helping them when they need it. Children often teach this to their parents; it can also be learned through community service. Service is a chance to do something good in the cause of important ideas and values. Most people want to make a difference in the world. Unavoidably, though, most people make compromises because they need to make a living, and as a result, they end up doing work that is not really important or lasting in any grand sense of the word. Volunteer work can help with that.

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