12 Steps Toward Fulfillment in the Practice of Law (Step 11)

Step 11 – Be Generous with Your Time and Money.

Judge Carl Horn reminds us of “the inverse relationship between selfish materialism and happiness.” Specifically, Horn says that “devoting too much of our time and energy to acquiring will yield an opposite result.” While most of the writing in this area has a narrow focus on pro bono work, Horn’s point is a broader one. “Our primary point here is more selfish, namely, that being generous with our time and money will make us feel better about our profession and our lives generally. In a word, giving generously will make us happier.”

Judge Horn quotes legal commentator Steven Keeva on his encouragement to develop a “helping heart.” Keeva says “those who . . . have been revered for their wisdom and empathy . . . have often been people who believed that the very purpose of life is to be of service to others. Today’s lawyers, being overwhelmingly inclined to minimize the importance of their inner experience are more apt to see personal enrichment as their purpose, at least in their professional lives.”  

Judge Horn states that if fulfillment is one of our goals then “after we provide for ourselves and our families, we will get more satisfaction out of generously giving then we will from hoarding.” Lawyers who are fortunate enough to make more money than they need “should apply this important life lesson by taking Step 11, that is, by looking for opportunities to share their time, talents, and resources with others.” 

Next week is the last Step, Pace Yourself for a Marathon.   

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