John G. Browning 2015-12-24 04:50:49
Making a Difference in Practice and on Paper As lawyers, we are regularly reminded of the importance of devoting some portion of our time to pro bono or public service work. Many of those who are most in need of legal help can’t afford it, particularly during catastrophic times in their lives, and this endangers the goal of having a justice system that is equally accessible to all. But being there to provide legal counsel for the less fortunate isn’t just “billable hours for the soul” (as some have described it); sometimes, it even provides a springboard to enable people to pay it forward themselves. Take my friend and former client Phillip Hatfield, for example. In November 2008, Phillip was involved in a devastating motorcycle accident that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. In the first 10 days of his lengthy hospital stay, he underwent multiple surgeries and nearly died seven times. Phillip’s former co-workers reached out to me on his behalf. His hospital bills were well into the six figures and mounting, as rehabilitation and prosthesis costs loomed. The crushing debt was endangering his dream of starting his own business and a new life with his fiancee. Although my experience has primarily been on the defense side of the docket, I did my best for Phillip, collecting the unfortunately minimal policy limits from the other driver’s insurance carrier and settling all of his outstanding medical bills for pennies on the dollar. There wasn’t much money left over, so I elected to keep only a small amount to cover the expenses that had been incurred, ensuring that Phillip received as much as possible. To say that Phillip was grateful would be an understatement. He went on to start a company that remodels homes to accommodate the needs of disabled vets and other amputees, and he wrote a book about his amazing journey and the faith that sustained him, Carried By Angels. In it, he referred to me as one of the “angels” who made a difference in his life. Today, Phillip is a motivational speaker and business coach who inspires others and continues to “pay it forward.” As he puts it, “My greatest tragedy was my greatest blessing.” Lawyers can and should make a difference in the lives of others. Here at the Texas Bar Journal, we try to help practitioners statewide with timely, informative articles covering a wide range of practice areas. In the past year, we’ve looked at hot topics in criminal and family law, technology’s impact on the practice of law, the graying of the profession, the vanishing jury trial, the challenges facing legal education, civility, and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the coming year, we’ll be tackling topics on energy law, transportation-related legal issues, and proposed changes to the judiciary, among others. We couldn’t do it without the Texas attorneys who are volunteer members of the Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors, or without the Bar Journal ’s staff, all of whom work to ensure that our magazine meets high editorial standards as well as the needs of the Texas legal community. We also couldn’t do it without you, the Texas lawyers who contribute articles and provide us with feedback and ideas for future content. Email us at email@example.com, and let’s continue making a difference.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/TBJ+Overview/2355904/285927/article.html.