I had a great morning yesterday. I had the opportunity to speak to the incoming first year class at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law. Twenty years ago this week I sat in the same classroom, anxious, excited, and scared -- just like the 150 students who were looking back at me. The look of the room has changed a bit, but the promise of what it has to offer has not.
The University of Arizona gave me a lot -- an education and career, life long friends and a community of colleagues, and, most importantly, my wife, Olivia, who was in school with me. I owe the law school, and the teachers who brought me up, a tremendous debt. And I am always thrilled to return, especially to talk with students.
What did I tell them? Three things.
-- Be Good: Be good everything you do. Study hard. But also, be a good member of the law school community. In our practice, like in so many other areas of life, reputation is everything. It takes a lifetime of deposits to build it up. But one careless slip will ruin it forever.
-- Be Kind: This is an adversarial profession. Enemies are made without even trying. Don't go out of your way to find them. You can be a tenacious and talented lawyer, zealously representing your clients and be kind at the same time. The power and strength of intentional kindness is tremendous. Visit Ben's Bells to learn more.
-- Be: Law school is tough. Stress, anxiety and doubt will be constant companions. It is important to find time to be present and mindful. It is also important to protect time for yourself -- continue to enjoy the things that brought you happiness and success all the years till now. Whether it's hanging out with friends, hiking, socializing, reading, knitting, playing chess or cleaning...it doesn't matter. But don't forget who you are and what makes you happy in the quest to succeed in law school.
Finally, I recommended a movie -- one have been recommending to folks since I first saw it years ago. Murder on a Sunday Morning, which you can watch here, is a documentary that tracks the trial of a young African American man accused of shooting a tourist in South Florida. It's a terrific movie, an Academy Award winner. And it is a great reminder of the importance of our legal system, and the role that lawyers play in our civilized and moral society.
Actually, one last thing -- I reminded these new students of the power of the handwritten thank you note. Very little gives you as much bang for your effort. Invest in some nice cards and remember to take a minute to send a note when you can.
To everyone starting the new school year -- at whatever level -- good luck! And check out the movie.
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