THE CHAIR’S CORNER
What Did You DO Today?
I have just put my feet up while sitting on the deck, popped open a beer, and started to relax for the first time today. There is just enough light to notice that the lake is calm and a few fishermen are still trying their luck.
The day started with a 7:30 AM meeting for the Community Foundation. There was no time for breakfast, just a quick cup of decaf coffee and a bagel. The dogs missed out on their morning walk.
After the meeting I spent the better part of the morning reviewing and responding to e-mail messages. Generally, I receive about 100 e-mails a day, approximately half of them being spam. The remainder deal with different volunteer activities, and a scattering of client e-mails mixed in, too. Periodically throughout the morning, I find time to converse with clients, handle questions, and (usually) put out their fires in fairly short order. With luck, by noon I have gotten through the original batch of e-mails.
Lunch, as usual, consisted of a bowl of soup to go from the local deli. A mere block away, the walk back and forth gives me an opportunity to clear my head and get some, albeit limited, exercise. The early afternoon was then spent with a client reviewing several ordinances in preparation for the evening’s night meeting. Fortunately, the meeting did not run too long, and I was able to get to my daily mail.
In the late afternoon I made an appearance at the local chamber of commerce Meet ’n’ Greet, ducking out early to attend a client board meeting. I am now home enjoying the view.
I would guess this is a pretty typical day for most lawyers, a mix of work with community and professional activities. I contend, as you know, that most lawyers are very actively involved in professional organizations and community service, and that they spend much more time on these activities than they could ever begin to realize. If only we would “toot our own horns” a little more, I believe that the general population would have a better understanding of the role of the main street lawyer in society.
At the pace we go, however, most of us just don’t take the time to stop and realize what we do for the community and the profession. When asked in a recent survey how many hours I spend on community projects and professional activities, it was difficult even to add it all up. Take a moment and try it yourself: Add up the number of hours you spend at ABA and other bar meetings, doing bar-related work, helping out with local community activities, and the like. You will be amazed.
My typical day, however, does not leave much time to do something for myself. I’m sure the same is true for you.
Just before sitting down to a late dinner, I made a quick call to Aunt Ethel, the relative I’ve been checking in on and helping out with odd tasks for the past few years. Aunt Ethel said she had spent most of her day raking leaves, preparing her meals, and sleeping. At 95 years old she pretty much has the “do something for yourself” bit down cold. Nonetheless, I am sure she spent many years doing something for her family and the larger community. There is a lesson in this, I think. Before you are forced by age or other circumstances to spend all of your time doing something for yourself, find a way to sneak in some “you” time while you can still enjoy it.
The theme for this Bar Year was three pronged: Do Something for the Profession, Your Community, Yourself. Many of you were already doing much for your communities and the profession, and I asked that you reflect on these activities and see if you could do even more. Most importantly, I asked that you find some time to do something for yourself. How have you done in that regard? Have you found time to coach soccer, take dance lessons, or learn how to make baskets? As jennifer rose, Editor-in-Chief of GPSolo magazine, stated back in last year’s special “Do Something” issue, it is time to break out of the mold and try something different. Remember how the new school year always was a time for resolutions to do something better than you did the year before? Now it is time to make those resolutions once again—and to make them happen.
But first, stop. Join me on the deck with your favorite liquid refreshment and ask, “Just what did I do today?”