President's Column:The Quiet Bargain...
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, commanded by Major General Gordon Granger, landed on Galveston Island and read General Order No. 3, which informed the people of the Emancipation Proclamation. Unbeknownst to the Texas slaves, the Proclamation had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln and became effective 2 1/2 years earlier. With Granger’s recitation, slaves in Texas now knew of their emancipation and their right to chart their individual and collective course with their new-found freedom. The news of freedom had been delayed, but ultimately not denied. Dreams of a better future were now possibilities. For many, the hope of attaining an education was central to these dreams.
With emancipation, slaves were bestowed with the freedoms and the responsibilities shared by all Americans—the same freedoms and responsibilities sought by millions of immigrants through the years.
The Quiet Bargain is the supported freedom to aspire, to develop and to utilize resources to effectuate those aspirations. Guaranteed with the collateral of character, reinforced with the responsibility of maintaining the republic while becoming a productive and engaged member of society. Coupled with the responsibility to vote, to see that justice is done, and to be mindful of (and compassionate towards) the well-being of others.
In the past, certain democratic tools were withheld, access to certain resources was denied, and legal impediments were erected to the exercise of freedom’s rights and responsibilities. Freedom’s bargain was compromised and lawyers played a key role in erecting and enforcing these impediments. Approximately one-hundred years after emancipation, lawyers played an integral role in dismantling the vestiges of this and other discrimination to ensure that a renewed freedom endures for all.
One of the freedoms that endures is the freedom to earn an education and improve one's self. With freedom comes the responsibility to be educated in order to maintain and improve our society.
There are millions of students nationwide who have accepted this responsibility and committed themselves to educational attainment and success. This time of year, thousands of students are graduating from high schools, colleges, law schools, or elsewhere...all with the hopes of a successful future. Each will be making decisions about what they want to be, whether they want to continue their education or start their career, and where they want to settle. As a society, we should encourage and applaud each of these students as they navigate these decisions.
Another enduring freedom is the freedom to contract or enter into a bargain demonstrated through word or deed.
With freedom comes the responsibility to ensure the continued vitality of our profession for present and future generations, knowing that as a profession and as a society we are only as strong as our future generations. As such, let’s make a quiet bargain with those entering or aspiring to enter our profession. The bargain is not specific to any race or gender, and need not be filled with pomp & circumstance, but instead should be subtle and sincere. A “quiet bargain,” like the bargains that I and others have made with countless individuals through the years as they have embarked on their respective educational journeys and careers, and that some individuals have made with me. It begins with an affirmation like: “I believe in you,” and should be followed closely with the statement “I believe that you have the capacity to do great things.” The power of a profession to state in a shared voice that “If you commit yourself to maximizing your potential, in all that you undertake, I will commit myself to assisting you in any way that I can.”
This summer, as in summers past, Dallas will be filled with a fresh influx of highly motivated law students from various law schools. Many of these law students will be legal clerks, summer associates, and judicial interns. Some in search of summer employment opportunities, all striving towards their eventual goal of graduation and entry into the profession. They believe, as I do, that the bargain exists. As members of the legal profession, of the Dallas Bar Association, of the fourth-largest metro area in the United States and the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. (according to Forbes, April 2012) I hope that we will show them it does.
The Dallas Bar Association invites you to attend some of its events geared towards its future lawyers. Among them are the Law Student Professionalism Program Wednesday, May 31, at 2:00 p.m.; the Pro Bono Clerk’s Luncheon Friday, June 1, at noon; and the Minority Clerkship Luncheons on Friday, June 8, and Friday, July 13, at noon. All of these programs will be held at the Belo Mansion and are intended to further introduce these students to our profession and our bar associations. They are also intended to encourage these best and brightest to call Dallas their professional home. I encourage you to make the bargain, support these future lawyers, and support these events.