Happy Thanksgiving!

– Thomas Hood (1799-1845)


No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —

I have always thought of November as the bleakest month. That’s particularly true here in Vermont, where the leaves have fallen from the trees, the temperatures have dropped, and with few exceptions, the beauty of the snow has not yet arrived.

But Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and almost invariably seems to lift us from the doldrums of an otherwise dreary season. This year, not so much. Because of the pandemic, friends and family are mostly at a distance. Even Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings will not make up the difference. Still it’s a good moment to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. I’m thankful for a great deal, not the least of which is my profession.

Not all of us see it this way, but particularly this year, most of us should realize that we are fortunate to be lawyers. Right now, we are particularly privileged as, by and large, we are able to do our work remotely and thereby reduce the risk of this terrible pandemic.

But there is much more to it than that. As a profession, we have much to be grateful for. Of course, we have the opportunity to earn a living, often a good one. But more significant, from my perspective, is this: If we choose to do it, we can use our skills to be of real service to others, and that’s an unusually rewarding opportunity.

At least in my practice, no client shows up on my doorstep, or even on my video screen, unless they have a serious problem that needs to be solved. And usually, I am able to help. Even when I can’t offer an outright solution, I’m able to listen intently, and clarify the options to help my client understand their situation.

Of course, different lawyers have very different practices and I understand that some have less opportunity to earn this kind of “psychic income.”

The work isn’t always easy. When it’s not, I remind myself that, as Jimmy Duggan said, “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”

This year, I’m particularly glad to stop and appreciate the nonmonetary benefits that practicing law has brought to me. I hope that’s true for you as well.

And with any luck, things will be looking up by the time Spring arrives.

Meanwhile, let us appreciate what we have.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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