That was an unforgettable experience.
By James M. Bond
Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” I believe that what Mr. Churchill meant was that our lives are enriched by volunteering – and if I am right, then there could be no more apt description of my time with the Canadian Bar Association than Mr. Churchill’s quote.
We lawyers are volunteers by nature. The drive to change the world for the better – or at least to have an impact on the environment around us – is what brought many of us to law school to begin with. Law school courses on professionalism and ethics and the mentoring provided by fellow members of the profession hone our sense of volunteerism. While a strong sense of volunteerism is not by any means limited to the members of our profession, we are uniquely situated to harness it in a way that no other profession can – to defend and protect the rule of law and administration of justice.
Granted, many of us learn what the rule of law is, and the impact it has on the proper administration of justice in our society, in law school. However, I believe that many of us are drawn to law school, and to our profession, because we have an innate sense of what is just and fair and what is unjust and unfair. For most lawyers, the need to stand up and speak out in our communities is hard-wired.
The Canadian Bar Association is filled with lawyers who stand up and speak out for members of their communities, their profession and people elsewhere. The British Columbia Branch, in particular, is an extremely healthy, dynamic and focused organization – due in large part to the energy and commitment of its many volunteers.
My time as President of the British Columbia Branch has, without a doubt, been the most rewarding volunteer experience I have ever had. Members of our organization are thoughtful, intelligent and hard-working – and they make a significant difference in the world. I thank you for allowing me to hold the position of President in such a unique and dynamic organization.
I should also say that significant involvement in any organization is not without some cost – not just for the volunteer, but for the volunteer’s family and work colleagues. I therefore would like to thank in particular my partner Brad, who accepted all of my time away from home and last minute cancellations to our evening and weekend plans with good grace and humour, and to thank my partners and the other lawyers and staff at Lang Michener LLP, as I simply could not have held this position and managed a private practice without all of their significant support during the last year.
Lawyers are volunteers by nature, and there are many great causes that we can and do give our time to. However, there is nothing that can match the experience of collaborating with others who share a passion for our profession, the justice system and the rule of law. The CBA provides just that experience. If you have considered becoming involved with the CBA, I urge you to do so. I am sure that you will find it as rewarding as I have.
This article was published in the August 2010 issue of BarTalk. © 2010 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.