Denver Bar Association
July 2008
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The Privilege of Giving Back

by Matthew Crouch

 

I believe I am the luckiest person on earth. Every day, I wake up to career that I love and I am surrounded by people that love me for me. I work with great legal minds and a staff that makes me look good even when I don’t deserve it. I have mountains on one side and plains on the other. Now admittedly, I don’t recognize this every day but a majority of the time I try to do so. Law is my passion. It excites me and heightens me. It is also called the "other woman" by my wife with a smile. Being in Denver only makes this better.

If you think about it, you are pretty lucky too. To be a legal professional and to live in Denver is an accomplishment. Whether you are in an office downtown, working out of your home office or places in between, you are a success. You have achieved what others maybe working toward or wishing for. And when you take a big step back and look at all that you have accomplished, it is quite amazing.

As an attorney, how would you look arriving at court with no case file, no pens, no paper, or without a briefcase or even a binder to hold them in?

Now, this is not a call to discontinue your accomplishments. Keep going, keep dreaming and keep doing. However, I would like you to think about adding something. It is the privilege of giving back. Yes, privilege. As odd as it sounds, each of us in the legal profession is privileged to give back to our community.

When I became an attorney five years ago, I started volunteering at legal functions. I fondly remember helping stuff school supplies into backpacks for the CBA/DBA Community Action Network project. I loved it because both my parents were teachers and I understood the importance of those supplies for each kid. I knew that being a kid was tough enough, but to be a kid from a homeless or impoverished family without access to school supplies was tougher.

Jan Mickish (left) and her mother Mildred Mickish, assembled backpacks for the 2007 School Supply Drive.

After my first year with the school supply drive, I got my firm involved. It started with permission from the managing partner, a donation box and mass e-mails out to the entire firm. The box slowly filled up and I hauled it to CBA offices on sorting day. I helped pack the backpacks and then helped distribute backpacks full of supplies to children.

Four years of school supply drives have gone by in the blink of an eye. I began an additional program at the firm, where I would put up $20 and offer to do the school supply shopping for anyone who would match it. Some colleagues matched my $20, some wanted to remain anonymous and would drop mystery bags of supplies at (or even under) my desk, while others simply dropped them off in the donation box. A few began to volunteer themselves and their children to help on the sorting and distribution days. Even the cleaning crew and the security guards got into the action.

What does this have to do with you and the privilege of giving back? I’ll answer that with a question back: As an attorney, how would you look arriving at court with no case file, no pens, no paper, or without a briefcase or even binder to hold them in? Your paralegals might have their own office supply quirks, but if they don’t have staplers, markers or paper clips, things are liable to get a little dicey. Now, put yourself in the shoes of a third grade student who doesn’t have school supplies. Having paper, pens, pencils, erasers, a ruler, glue and other school supplies tucked nicely into a new backpack would be a wonderful start to school! Your donation of school supplies or money toward school supplies has an immediate and obvious impact, as well as long-term. We are lawyers and legal professionals, so we see the privilege of giving back. The two minutes spent sending an e-mail asking colleagues to match your $20 donation, or the four hours spent helping sort supplies and stuff backpacks are all noteworthy. Hence, you and I are privileged to give back to the community that we live and work in.

So you see, you already are one of the luckiest people on earth in this profession. And after all, could you have come this far without the help of some school supplies?

Interested in the CBA/DBA CAN school supply drive? Contact Heather Clark at (303) 824-5350 or hclark@cobar.org or see the school supply notice on the previous page.


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