Independence Day: what does it mean for lawyers?

To those of you in or from the U.S., Happy Independence Day!

Today’s a day that many celebrate with cookouts, fireworks, parades, and the like.  I’ve had an interesting lead-in to the holiday through conversation with my husband’s parents.  They live in England, though they spend a great deal of time now in the U.S.  Their recent questions about what exactly we celebrate on the 4th of July and most especially what’s happening in American politics prompted me to give some thought not only to what’s going on in our country, but also how we as lawyers experience and contribute to our national conversations.

A number of years ago, a prominent criminal defense lawyer (think Matlock) visited the firm where I was working to talk to us about the Patriot Act and to urge us to be educated on the issues, to educate others, and to play a role in unwinding the Act and the laws associated with it.  I appreciated his vigor, and I was moved by his passion.  And then I returned to my desk to bill some more hours.  I was not alone.  The pressures of practice demand attention, and lawyers are conditioned to respond.

But what else is important?

Though my coaching engagements always begin with a client’s interest in a particular issue or aspect of her life, very often the conversation expands beyond that single focus.  We often look at not only professional goals and issues, but also at personal desires and family concerns.  We address community involvement as a part of business development conversations.  And, on occasion, we explore broader issues such as whether, what, and how this individual may choose to contribute to our society, perhaps through pro bono work or speaking or political activity.

I have recently become certified in leadership coaching, in part because I believe that lawyers are leaders not only within a practice area or a firm, but also in society.  Sometimes by design, and sometimes by default.  My mission is to support lawyers in stepping up to leadership — beginning first with themselves, and then reaching outward as far as they wish.  My writing usually center on personal or practice-based leadership, but today is a good day to open up the question to a broader scale.

And so, my question today is this: what responsibility do we bear, both as citizens and as lawyers, to step up to the issues facing us today?

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply