"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Maya Angelou
Tis the season of giving – and lawyers are leading the way.
Attorneys are unfairly pegged as greedy Grinches. But the evidence – at least in North Carolina – proves otherwise.
Here are 10 examples of Tar Heel attorneys who are givers, not takers:
Lawyers 4 Literacy. In the first week of December, attorneys from Wilmington to Western Carolina teamed up with Barnes & Noble to provide books for schoolchildren. The literacy program, sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation, included gift cards and book donations.
Examples of Excellence. Chapel Hill attorney John Northen was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the NCBA’s Bankruptcy Law Section. He was only the third to be so honored. Over his nearly 40-year career, Northen – described in the awards ceremony as a “generally wonderful guy” – has guided countless people through financial crises. But his sweet spot is helping mom-and-pop establishments stay afloat. “I like trying to help struggling businesses survive,” he says.
“Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Giving to the grieving. The NCBA Young Lawyers Division awarded more than $20,000 in college scholarships to students from families of N.C. law enforcement officers who have died or been disabled in the line of duty. A sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill said the money helps pay for his books and living expenses. A senior at East Carolina University said the gift covers her health insurance costs.
HELP when needed. In 2013, Lawyers Mutual created its HELP (Handling Emergency Legal Problems) program. A special team of claims counsel, malpractice prevention pros and risk managers comes to the aid of attorneys and firms following a crisis like a medical emergency or unexpected death. “Helping other lawyers is the best part of my job,” says Warren Savage, Lawyers Mutual claims attorney and a HELP team member. “It’s rewarding to help attorneys get the assistance they need during their most difficult time.”
“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got. Spread your love everywhere you go.” Mother Teresa
Free aid for entrepreneurs. NC LEAP provides pro bono legal services – including protection of intellectual property and startup advice – to low-wealth entrepreneurs and business owners. Earlier this year, NC LEAP helped found the Pro Bono Advisory Council, an outgrowth of the America Invents Act, that will give these efforts nationwide reach.
Individuals who inspire. In October, the NCBA Foundation dedicated the William Joslin Justice Fund. Joslin, who died in January 2011, was a revered North Carolina lawyer, public servant and conservationist. The NCBA Foundation Endowment has awarded 555 grants and more than $4.4 million to dozens of deserving projects and programs across the state.
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Mark Twain
Finding balance. Lawyers Mutual won this year’s NC Association of Women Attorneys’ Balanced Life Workplace Award. The honor is given to an employer who distinguishes itself through policies and practices that help lawyers achieve balance in their work and personal lives. Accepting the award, LM claims attorney Laura Loyek and Client Services VP Camille Stell praised the company’s flexible work schedule and commitment to community service.
Good lawyers, good citizens. A dozen North Carolina attorneys were honored by the NCBA in July as Citizen Lawyers. The recipients – government officials, coaches, mentors and volunteers with nonprofit, civic and community organizations – were Leigh Wilkinson, Sharon Thompson, Craigie Sanders, Valecia McDowell, Will Graebe, Janet Ward Black. Back: Gray Styers, Lacy Presnell, Craig Lynch, Judge Bob Hunter, Charles Ingram and Lee Farmer.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 919-619-2441.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.