“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
— Maya Angelou
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Let’s talk about heroes (or she-roes!) and how important these mythical beings are to all of us as people and legal professionals.
I’m a child of the seventies, and you cannot be a child of the seventies without having seen Kermit the Frog on early seasons of PBS’ Sesame Street or on The Muppet Show and its various film and television spin-offs. Kermit’s famous song, Bein’ Green (you can watch it here!) was my—and hundreds of other kids’—favorite song as a child. Whenever I feel like the odd-person (or frog)-out, I simply mutter “It’s not easy being green” to myself and I just feel better. But more than just reminding me of my childhood, Kermit the Frog (the character – I’m sorry to tell you, but Muppets aren’t real), with his vast, still-growing body of work (the Muppet Show is back!!!), represents a “person” I really admire. His self-deprecating persona and his sometimes frenetic but loving leadership of his offbeat cast of characters inspires me to be better. And that is precisely what a hero (or she-ro) does: inspires us to be better people than we would be without them.
As a lawyer, I have many legal heroes—and not all of these legal heroes are lawyers or fictional characters (see my prior blog post “You Can’t Handle the Truth” here). Sometimes these heroes are simply called “mentors,” “senior partners” or “sponsors,” and sometimes they even lack official titles altogether. Regardless of title or stature, however, each hero is as important as the last.
When I first started practicing law, I learned more about being a lawyer from the paralegals in my office than from the partners for whom I worked. They guided me through forming my first companies and reading my first UCC searches. No fancy titles or degrees—just women (I have only worked with one male paralegal in 18 years of practice) who had worked in the legal industry for a long time who were knowledgeable, patient and great teachers. Of course, I must also celebrate my pro bono client heroes. Working with micro-entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs of low or no means, and being able to help these brave people change the course of their own and others' economic justice has made me want to be not only a better lawyer, but a better person.
I celebrate all my heroes legal or otherwise and thank them all for the differences they have made in my life. Who are your heroes (or she-roes) and how do these people (or frogs) fit into your life and your legal practice, or both?