Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Peggy Noonan, writing recently in The Wall Street Journal, hit on an important truth that law firm leaders should heed. In lamenting what she called the national need for “adult supervision,” Noonan wrote, “there’s kind of an emerging mentoring gap going on in America right now … a generalized absence of the wise old politician/lawyer/leader/editor who helps the young along, who teaches them the ropes and ways and traditions of a craft.”
Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, identified the book’s protagonist, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch, as a model of stable, wise counsel that would benefit many of today’s young leaders. (There’s a slight flaw in one part of Noonan’s analysis — Atticus Finch was about the same age as many modern “young” leaders she points to — people like President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (no relation). What Noonan doesn’t get is that wisdom is neither the province of the old nor the assured destination of advancing age.)
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