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Giving Thanks to Fellow Advocates: Adversaries and Friends

It’s always amazing to see two other passionate attorneys get into such a heated argument that that their faces turn red, onlookers begin to gasp and the local news has to bleep out every third word. What’s even more amazing is to see them after the scrum is over. They can laugh together. They share stories from their week. They even go to their kids’ birthday parties. After all, attorneys are human too and part of being a lawyer is learning how to compartmentalize.

So, with the holiday season here we thought now is as good of a time as ever to give thanks to our colleagues – all the lawyers we’ve said something completely inappropriate to (deserved or not), all the lawyers that have helped us on a matter (even though they weren’t getting paid to), and all the lawyers who have made us laugh (on purpose or not).

It Takes a Village

Practicing law is by no means a stress free profession. The challenges attorneys face take a toll on families, friendships and even one’s own mental health. The beauty of the profession, however, is the unique community of support that’s available for those who want it.

Earlier this month I attended the Dave Nee Foundation Annual Gala. The Foundation strives to help attorneys who are hesitant to reach out to get support for times when their stresses or other challenges become too much to bare. Every year the Foundation gives the Uncommon Counselor Award to a member of the legal profession who exhibits extraordinary compassion and concern for his co-workers, family, friends, and community.

This year, the Foundation awarded the David S. Stoner Uncommon Counselor Award to Anderson Kill & Olick litigator and Fordham Law professor Mike Lane (in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a founding member of the Foundation, still active on the board, and proud to know Mr. Lane professionally and personally).

A Simple Message

Mike Lane

Mr. Lane teaches first year legal writing at Fordham. As we all know, 1Ls are both extremely competitive and equally insecure – not an extremely healthy combination. It could certainly be easy to take those traits and become isolated. Mr. Lane understands the dangers of doing so, having seen thousands of lawyers grow in their careers. That is why he ends each and every class with one simple instruction:

“Take care of each other.”

It’s a simple message. It doesn’t take much to accomplish. It can be a phone call. A holiday card. Or even just a smile. No matter how it’s pulled off, the legal community is a strong one because of just how much support there is and how sociable it can be.

During Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, we should give thanks for the intangible rewards of working in the legal profession. So don’t be afraid to be thankful for your patient families and colleagues. And don’t forget to be thankful for your adversaries, too — they can also be incredibly understanding friends.

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