Happy Law Day!
This year’s theme: free speech, free press, free society.
(Try saying that 3 times fast and learn why today might also be national tongue twister day.)
What’s this got to do with wellness? Let me try to convince you that it does.
Per today’s ABA Journal, there are “gaps in Americans’ civic knowledge.” The gaps were revealed by the 2019 ABA Survey of Civic Literacy. Honestly, the numbers don’t look terrible to me. Especially compared to numbers I reported in this space a few years.
Free speech, free press, and free society indeed.
As I blogged back then,
Worse, per the same poll, only 1 in 4 Americans can name all 3 branches of government!
If 3 out of 4 don’t know the branches, how are we to impress upon the executive & legislative branches the importance of an independent & fully funded judicial branch?
Here’s a simple way to help: contact the Vermont Bar Association at email@example.com Ask for a pocket constitution. Give the pocket constitution to a kid, or to a teacher, or to a client who is a school board member.
Or, do what a number of Vermont lawyers have been doing around the state: volunteering their time to visit schools and civic organizations to talk about the Constitution and civics. It might sound like a small step. It is. But small steps often lead in the right direction.
Earlier that week, I’d posted Constitution Day & Karaoke. In it, I laid down this challenge:
As I’ve mentioned at a few seminars, my initial exposure to the U.S. Constitution was during the Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid. Courtesy of the folks at Schoolhouse Rock!, that’s when, where, and how I first learned about the origins of the Constitution and the words to The Preamble.
Of course, if people are not able to access the legal services that they need to protect their rights, the Constitution might mean little to them. So, in honor of Constitution Day, if an attorney or firm donates $1,000 to the Vermont Bar Foundation’s Access to Justice Campaign by Friday, September 29, I’ll karaoke the Schoolhouse Rock! version of The Preamble at the VBA’s upcoming annual meeting.
Within days, the challenged was accepted and my singing debut finalized. At the October 2017 Annual Meeting of the Vermont Bar Association I subjected those in attendance to my rendition of the Schoolhouse Rock! song. How it has not gone viral is truly the 9th wonder of the modern world.
If picturing me singing The Preamble to a ballroom full of 300 as my parents looked on in abject horror doesn’t improve your mood, then I don’t know what wellness is.
Furthermore, last week, Eileen Blackwood and I presented on professionalism at the VBA’s Basic Skills conference. Eileen urged the new lawyers to consider pro bono work. Among its other benefits, Eileen shared a poignant story of how a case that she handled pro bono brought her a measure of personal satisfaction that she didn’t always find in her work for “paying” clients.
Her story is relevant today.
Pro bono is a professional responibility. The rule here. It states that a substantial majority of a lawyer’s pro bono hours should be provided to persons of limited means or to organizations whose primary purpose is to support persons of limited means.
After that, however, Rule 6.1(b)(3) indicates that additional hours may include “participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.” Per Comment , this includes “taking part in Law Day activities.”
- it’s clear that we need to do more to increase civic knowledge;
- Rule 6.1(b)(3) and Comment  indicate that Law Day activities count as pro bono;
- as Eileen shared, pro bono work can improve your sense of wellness.
Thus, volunteering to raise civic wellness might include the added benefit of improving your wellness.
Get involved. The rule of law needs lawyers, and lawyers need wellness.