Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Editor's Message: It’s That Time of Year Again

By Ed Comey

By the time you’re reading this, I’m ordinarily well on my way to breaking my New Year’s resolutions. Every year, I make out the same list of (mostly meaningless) resolutions ― I’m going to go the gym, eat healthier, read more, etc. ― only to give up on most of them by mid-January. This year, my wife came up with an idea that was novel to me but probably shouldn’t be: Perhaps I’d actually stick to my resolutions if they were about improving others, not myself. So I followed my wife’s advice and came up with a list of New Year’s resolutions that are focused on others. I thought I’d share two:

Be a Mentor. In the January/February issue of the Lawyer magazine, Judge Perrone wrote a great article about Don Stichter, who was recently presented with the second annual professionalism award by the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s Professionalism Committee. Among the many reasons Mr. Stichter deserved the award was the fact that he is universally praised for his formal and informal mentoring of young lawyers throughout the local Bar.

As a law clerk, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a number of extremely talented interns and young lawyers. One of the biggest complaints I hear from them is the lack of mentoring available for young lawyers. Admittedly, I don’t always make time to mentor younger lawyers. It’s easy to get so caught up with my work that I forget to give an intern feedback on an assignment, reach out to a former intern or colleague to see how they’re doing in practice, offer some encouragement and advice to a law student looking for a job, or just listen. But if a legend like Don Stichter can find the time to do it, then I can too. So this year, I’m going to make an effort to be a better mentor to my interns and other young lawyers.

Do Pro Bono or Volunteer. I can hardly open an issue of the Lawyer without coming across a worthy pro bono project or request for volunteers. This issue is no different. Matt Luka has written an excellent article seeking pro bono volunteers for the Clemency Project 2014. And in most issues, the Community Services Committee highlights a way for HCBA members to give back to the community. But despite the glaring need for pro bono assistance and a wealth of opportunities, the sad truth is I have made little effort to volunteer. Of course, I’ve justified my lack of pro bono work by convincing myself it’s not something law clerks can do. In actuality, the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees does permit law clerks to do certain types of pro bono work. So this year, I’m going to take advantage of at least one of the many pro bono or volunteer opportunities highlighted in the Lawyer.

One of the most common tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions is to share them with others. By sharing two of my resolutions with you, I hope it will force me to actually follow through with them. And perhaps it will give some ideas to others who are trying to come up with their own resolutions. Best wishes for the New Year!