I have always been interested in giving back to more junior lawyers during my career and now as I get close to the end of an active legal practice.
One way to give back besides mentoring is to teach law students. It may not enhance your retirement revenue, but it will enhance your appreciation for the future generation of lawyers –both here and abroad. And it’s an excellent way to pay it forward.
My first foray in teaching was overseas. In 2007, I participated in an international exchange program for senior lawyers called CILS, for the Center for International Legal Studies. CILS is a law research, training, and teaching institute, established and operating as a non-profit, public interest society under Austrian law. (www.cils.org) Through its Senior Lawyer Visiting Professors Program, the Center places experienced practitioners in visiting professorships at institutions in Eastern Europe, Russia and former Soviet republics, China, India, and Myanmar. According to the CILS website, “[a]lmost 400 senior lawyers have taken up almost 900 appointments since the program began in 2006.” And one has a choice of which country to go to.
I was fortunate to be a Senior Lawyer Visiting Professor at the Cardinal Stefan Wysznski University of Warsaw. It is a Catholic university, and I was put up in a nearby seminary. Law is taught at the undergraduate level in Poland, so I taught about 30 college seniors a course in U.S. constitutional law. Prior to starting the actual teaching, American lawyers participate in a week-long training program in Salzburg, Austria, the home of CILS. Staying in a lovely castle in Salzburg –the home of “Sound of Music” --and eating apple strudel (which my partner made with the other spouses) is probably a good enough reason to participate. Following the training, I returned to the States to continue work and then returned to Warsaw where I began my teaching. The students mostly understood my English and seemed to enjoy the course. And I appreciated that they aced the final exam on how the first amendment applied to high school students. They were also gracious hosts during my stay and at the end of the class presented me with a lovely picture book on Warsaw. Make sure to visit the cities of Gdansk and Krakow if you go to Poland –they are worth the train rides.