Musings of an old country lawyer

I had a brief chance encounter with Dan Doyle and Phil Reinhard a couple of months ago. I had not seen either for a while and it was good to say hello, how are you, how is the family.

Later, I said to my wife Cindy that one of things I enjoyed a great deal in this Act III (see Loren Golden’s article) was encountering lawyers like Dan and Phil, lawyers who have been part of my community of lawyers for many years. (This fondness does not extend to all of those who have shared those years). Although both Dan and Phil had admirable and distinguished careers (ultimately one an appellate judge and one a federal judge), it is something else I am enjoying.

I may not describe this well but . . . it is a sense of “community.” It is a bond not unlike, I am certain, the bond that naturally occurs between combat veterans, long-time policemen and firemen, and survivors of any stressful experience. (I am not sure what that says about the practice of law).

These particular legal veterans are typically quiet, dignified and professional. They are also friendly and do not hesitate to extend a kindness to others, whether lawyer or lay person.

There are many like them in my community and, I suspect, in yours. No scandals, no drama, no notoriety; just showing up every day and doing their work well. Frequently, they have served countless community organizations, chambers and charitable causes, as PTA presidents, park board commissioners, church and school board members, etc. They are not the wealthiest among us and not always the best known, but perhaps they represent the best of us. They quietly go about their legal lives, as judges, or helping their clients and communities. Their families come first. They are usually intelligent, witty and charismatic, but not in any flashy way. Many were adversaries, some more often than occasionally. They are endlessly civil even though they have never had a class on civility. Their word is good; their reputation is good; their life is good. It is good that there are so many of them out there. They deserve more recognition than they receive.

No wonder they bring a smile to my face when I encounter them. No wonder I enjoy the encounters so much. They represent what I admire most about our profession. ■

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February 2012Volume 3Number 2PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)