The True Reward: Helping others

THIS ISSUE OF LAW PRACTICE is specifically ded icated to the subject of lawyer compensation. Finance is one of the ABA Law Practice Division’s (LP) four core areas, along with law practice management, marketing and technology. LP has a deep trove oftools and materials available on the subject of law firm finance that I have recently utilized in structuring the compensation system for our firm. From books to CLEs, from webinars to articles, LP’S vast storehouse of resources facilitates lawyers’ realization of their financial goals.

Too often, however, some members of the legal profession see the practice of law as a means to an end—that compensation only consists of payment given for doing a job. They fail to recognize other valuable nonfinancial compensation that cornes from prac ticing law. As lawyers, we are in a unique position to help others. We help individuals and organizations solve their legal problems and, in doing so, further the public good. Every day public interest lawyers champion legal causes that improve their local communi ties—and the world—by advocating for the oppressed and assisting those who might not otherwise be able to afford counsel. Lawyers in private practice perform pro bono and “low bono” work to assist low- and moderate-income people as well as various underserved segments of our society such as the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, the homeless and at-risk children. Tremendous personal rewards can be realized by making a difference through the practice oflaw that benefits others.

Lawyers also reap the reward of being part of one of the most intellectually stimulating professions. From helping to secure immigration for a refugee seeking political asylum to facilitating the development of a low-income housing tax credit project that will provide needed homes to many, lawyers are problem solvers and innovative thinkers whose intellect makes a difference. As lawmak ers and thought leaders, lawyers are in a unique position to affect meaningful change. For centuries lawyers have written the laws that control our society, have overseen our judicial system and served in influential positions in government. In these roles lawyers have been able to impact policy and change around the globe. One of the keys to success in practicing law—the true compen sation—is for lawyers to actually enjoy what they are doing. Each day I wake up and cannot wait to get into the office to find what new problems I can solve. Every day in my practice brings a new 8 Law Practice May/June 2016 www.lawpractice.org opportunity to help others and change my community for the better, whether it be to open a new business or to assist someone in acquiring his or her first home.

Throughout my career, I have always carried a copy of Robert Frost’s poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time” The last stanza reads:

But yield who will to their separation, I My object in living is to unite I My avocation and my vocation I As my two eyes make one in sight. I Only where love and need are one, I And the work is play for mortal stakes, I Is the deed ever really done I For Heaven and the futures sakes.

This which calling financial compensation but the unquantifiable rewards of helping our clients.

As Frost urged his readers, I have found true happiness by suc- cessfully marrying my avocation of helping others with my voca tion of addressing the needs of clients in the practice of law. And, in doing so, the work has become play and I have reaped the true compensation that is so much a part of being a lawyer. This is the compensation on which we should focus: a higher calling that yields not only financial compensation but the unquantifiable rewards of helping our clients, opening doors and advocating for those who would not otherwise have a voice. With that nonfinancial remuneration I am truly compensated and find contentment with law as a noble profession.

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