HOMELinksContact UsHelp
[Back...]
YES, VIRGINIA, LAWYERS REALLY DO CARE - By Bradley R. Hume

April 2013 President's Message

I arrived at my designated school on time, and was promptly escorted to the 7th grade social studies class, arriving just before an invasion of over-amped entourage of young adolescents. I was there as part of the LBA’s “Law Day in School” program, where attorneys volunteer to spend an hour in the classroom, educating middle schoolers on the basics of law. On this day my assigned topic was “How the Courts Work.”

I looked around the classroom and noted with equal parts appreciation and amusement the poster-sized picture of a gaunt, balding, very elderly, prototypical 1950s-era judge, looking down menacingly at the class over the top of his wire-rim spectacles, his countenance at once stern and forbidding, and his overall appearance wholly intolerant of even a suggestion of mischief. “Well, at least I’m in the right classroom,” I thought, turning away from the giant judge on the wall, “although I hope I’m never in his courtroom.”

Suddenly the teacher, an affable, big-bear-hug of a man, held his arm up high and shouted, “People!” Quickly, and amazingly, the room fell silent—the students at once respectful and obedient. “Everyone, this is Mr. Hume. He’s a lawyer, he’s from downtown, and he’s here to tell us how the courts work.”

Gazing at the students’ expectant faces, I thought, “Piece of cake.” How wrong was I!

I started to tell them who I was and what I did, but I never really had a chance. Questions spilled out like torrents of rain. “Are you a real lawyer?” “Have I seen you on TV?” “Do you live in a mansion?” “How much did your shoes cost?” “Do you represent criminals?” And then the coup de grace: “Is that you up there on the wall (pointing to the picture of the elderly judge)?”

Ouch!

Yet I persevered, and with the aid of a few more well-timed “People!” commands from the man who was rapidly becoming my hero and my savior all wrapped into one, the students and I discussed judges and juries, parties and witnesses, and even the different types of courts we have in the federal and state systems. We wrapped up with small group exercises, asking the students to choose—from among a list of 30 words and phrases—the one most important characteristic a good judge should have. Their answers were, for the most part, thoughtful and discerning:

“Honest,” said one group. “Fair,” said another.

“So far, so good,” I thought.

“Aggressive,” said a third, followed by the last: “Tough on crime.”

“Hmm. Prosecutors in training,” thought I.

At the end of the class period, after the students had sprinted helter-skelter style into the hallway, I warmly shook the hand of my newest hero and role model, patted him on the shoulder, and said approvingly, “God bless you, my friend.” I meant every word of it.

It was, without a doubt, a great way to spend an hour.

There are countless LBA attorneys who give selflessly of their time to many public service projects, and their activities deserve, far more than mine, to be profiled in this newspaper. Would that we could always give credit where it was due! Would that we had the space to single out all of those who have donated generous blocks of their “free” time to so many of the LBA’s pro bono and public service programs, such as:

• volunteering at The Healing Place, to help those in need deal with personal legal issues;

• partnering with the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law School to put on the Summer Law Institute, our annual, week-long residential summer “law camp” for high school students;

• organizing the Summer Intern Program, which finds summer internships for exceptional Central High School students at local law firms;

• organizing and participating in the Attorney Bowl for Kids’ Sake, our annual fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters;

• volunteering for an evening of Call-a-Lawyer, our monthly call-in service for those with legal questions;

• partnering with Just Solutions and Peace Education to run Meeting of the Minds, where middle school students learn mediation skills from trained mediators;

• participating in Law Day in School (as above), where attorneys teach middle school students about the law; and

• volunteering for Elder Issues, our semi-annual program designed to educate seniors about legal issues special to them.

I am proud of all that the LBA does in the area of public service, and equally proud of how well it does it. But for all we do, we can do more, and we should do more. Which brings me to…

“Lawyers Care”
Last year Mayor Greg Fischer initiated his city-wide “Give a Day” program, urging all citizens to participate in a public service project during a certain week in April. The result was so successful that Louisville earned the designation, “The Most Compassionate City.”

This year the Mayor hopes to do even better, and has targeted the week of April 13-21 as his “Give a Day” week. He has also asked that the LBA join him in this effort. We have agreed to do so, and we are calling our initiative, “Lawyers Care.”

The concept is simple and straightforward: We are asking all of our members (yes, all of you!) to donate a day, a half-day or even just an hour to a public service project during the week of April 13-21. In effect, we want to put our collective shoulder to the Mayor’s “Compassionate Louisville” wheel, in order to benefit the community we live in, and to show the people of our community that “lawyers care.”

You say that you don’t know where to go, or what to volunteer for? The United Way, acting in partnership with the City of Louisville, has a website full of available volunteer activities for that particular week. Simply CLICK HERE and volunteer for one you like. Or call a homeless shelter and offer to serve a meal, or paint a room. Or call the LBA and offer to volunteer to take calls (don’t worry, you’re anonymous) on our Call-a-Lawyer night from 6 to 8 p.m. Our public service opportunities are only constrained by the limits of our own imagination. People in need are all around us.

And when you have volunteered, let us know, so that we can keep track, even in a crude sort of way, of how much our lawyers care about the community we live in. E-mail our Public Service/Pro Bono Director, Kate Lindsay at klindsay@loubar.org and tell her what public service you performed and how much time you volunteered during that week. We’re aiming for 1,000 hours of collective public service from members of the LBA—help us meet our goal.

Thanks, and I’ll see you out in the community during “Give a Day” week. Let’s each do our part to show the community that “lawyers care.”


Bradley R. Hume

Copyright Louisville Bar Association. All rights reserved. Use of this Web site assumes acceptance of the Terms of Use.