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TCL > September 1999 Issue > The Case for Community Service

September 1999       Vol. 28, No. 9       Page  13
CBA President's Message to Members

The Case for Community Service
by Bart Mendenhall

Why should you, a lawyer, become involved in community service? Perhaps the better question is, why not? For your edification, the following are a few of the reasons why anyone, but in particular a lawyer, should get involved in service to his or her community.

1. It's fun. When you're sitting on the city council, and halfway through the meeting you see the editor and owner of the local paper reach into his pocket, take out his hearing aid, and insert it, you get to take turns guessing what the article on the meeting is going to look like.

2. You get to hang out with a better class of people than you are used to.

3. It makes you feel good. There is no way to describe the grin on a kid's face when, with his grandpa, he catches his first fish after your committee opens a new fishing hole in the "bad" part of town.

4. You meet some really nice people who will give you a different perspective on the world than the lawyers you usually associate with.

5. At the risk of motivating you for base reasons, you might meet someone who would want to send you some business simply because you are supporting your community, and they think that's a good idea.

6. We are very fortunate to be where we are in society, and we need to pay back society for what we have received.

7. It's something that anyone with a minimal sense of responsibility does.

8. People who give back live longer.

9. Your dog will think more of you.

10. It's the right example to set for your kids.

11. It gives you a chance to talk in plain English.

12. You'll get more Christmas cards.

13. Your mother would want you to.

14.You might actually get to change people's opinion of lawyers (for the better, this time).

15. People will yell at you on the street. (Hello! How are you?)

16. You won't have time to watch TV, and your brain will firm up.

17. You'll find causes where you can get rid of all your excess money.

18. It's what good people do.

19. The thank-you's you'll get will balance out all of those obnoxious depositions.

20. Other lawyers will see you and want to copy you, thereby creating positive vibes.

21. Did I mention that it makes you feel good?

As lawyers, we all know other lawyers who are contributors to their communities. We need to make sure that they are recognized for their efforts. Often, those who help others are reticent about blowing their own horn. They should be honored for their efforts, both out of respect for the individual, and to make sure that folks outside of the profession realize the good works that attorneys do. If you know of someone that should receive recognition for their good works, let Diane Hartman, CBA Director of Communications, know about them.

The public wants lawyers and judges who understand their debt to the community. When I sat on the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the lay members consistently wanted to know whether an applicant had served his or her community, and if not, why not.

In sum, your service is not only good for society, it's good for you, in many ways. Don't take my word for it. Ask Jim Croshal why he is the President of the Boy's and Girl's Club in Pueblo. Ask John Castellano, former DBA President, who started the Lincoln Park Scholars Program. Ask Dale Harris, CBA President-Elect, who chaired the Denver United Way Board; or Judge Wiley Daniel, who mentored students; or Melody Massih in Rifle, who volunteers in schools; or Boulder Magistrate T.J. Cole, who volunteers with kids.

Two of the issues I'm talking about as I visit local bar associations around the state are getting more lawyers involved in their communities and getting more lawyers involved in politics. I hope I've convinced you why community service is valuable. In another column, I'll try a harder sell: why you should be involved in politics.

I seek your thoughts and suggestions. Please feel free to e-mail me at, or contact me through the CBA: (303) 860-1115 or (800) 332-6736.


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