By Emma Dean
My dad used to talk about connections. Not the connections in the movies that get you a good table at a fancy restaurant – that was not Dad. No, Dad was a chemistry professor for 50 years who would wear the same threadbare, blue clothes (they were always blue) while investing his heart and soul into helping his students and me, his daughter, become the very best versions of ourselves. The connections Dad spoke about were the links to each other’s hearts that invigorate us, challenge us to be better and cause us to improve the world around us. Real connection with someone lets you understand and respect them, even if you do not always agree with them.
All attorneys and judges share a great connection with each other born out of our love and respect for the justice system. We found ourselves lugging heavy textbooks around law schools because we are problem solvers who wanted to take on the problems of the world because we knew we could help others. That common story, that link, that connection is what allows us to bring a great level of civility to our profession. It is how we zealously represent our clients, fight for justice in an adversarial system and then shake hands with opposing counsel and say hi to them at a kid’s basketball game the next night.
This level of civility in our profession is something to be celebrated. Judge Clifton Newman spoke to the House of Delegates in May about civility. He spoke about how the profession first calls us to be adversaries, but how important it is to find common ground and uplift each other. Judge Newman also discussed the importance of not insisting on the last word.
Navigating an adversarial system for the purpose of justice is a difficult task for us all, and non-attorneys may not understand the challenges and deep societal need for our profession to be civil – but we do. We feel it in our souls. In those connections, in those links we know it and we feel it. These connections give us our legal
Our legal community has been important to me all my life. Coming from a family of non-attorneys, I learned the profession from mentors who graciously and selflessly shared their time with me. Perhaps though, I most felt the strength of our legal community this year when lawyers supported me during Dad’s illness. Great advocates and problem solvers started showing up at my door with food to make sure we were taking care of ourselves, phones started ringing with calls and texts from very busy attorneys stopping what they were doing to make sure we were ok, and then even more attorneys found their way to the small town of Honea Path to celebrate Dad. We all need community, and we lawyers have a tremendous one. I will forever be grateful to this community.
It is this legal community that our Bar is dedicated to support. Some ways we hope to support you and our community are through our new Community department that is working with local bars and developing mentor and mentee relationships. If you are interested, please reach out to Kimberly Snipes at Kimberly.email@example.com. We also have Lawyers Helping Lawyers supporting our community through five free counseling sessions (call 855-321-4384) and groups like Moms in Law (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org) and a 12-Step Meeting for Attorneys (email@example.com). The Lawyers Helping Lawyers team is also working on a grief group. Let me take a moment to highlight the importance of this program as we all grieve many things in our life, and working with others and talking about it can be incredibly important and helpful. Additionally, if you are interested in growing your legal community and becoming more active in the Bar, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Community, civility and connection are hallmarks of our profession. Words cannot fully do these tenets justice, but we all feel it and we are dedicated to support it and each other. As words cannot fully express these concepts that bind us and encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves, I will follow Judge Newman’s advice and not try to get in the last word; instead, I will say how honored I am to be a member of this profession with you, and that I am listening if you want to talk.
Reach Emma at email@example.com.