With the heavy loss of life and property in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, perhaps this is not the best time to give thanks. Yet, as Americans, we have faced traumatic events of this scale before and still maintained the state of mind to give thanks for the positive things that have happened and also to look ahead to better days.
So we start by giving thanks to the first responders to the storm and for the quiet heroics of our neighbors who lent us gasoline to keep our generators going or shared food and supplies when our kitchens were dark and bare. We also acknowledge elected officials at all levels who mustered the decency to put partisan differences aside in an effort to bring relief to those harmed by the storm’s destructive path. And we appreciate the numerous organizations and groups, both in and outside government, such as the New Jersey State Bar Association, that participated in the collective relief effort, which by no means is over.
The single most newsworthy event this past year was the re-election of the president. Irrespective of how we voted as individuals, we are thankful that voters clearly decided the outcome without the need for judicial intervention. As much as we admire the professionalism of the bench and bar, elections are best decided at the ballot box, not the courthouse. Despite a bare-knuckle campaign that seemed too long to many of us, election night brought a magnanimous victory speech by the winner and a gracious concession speech by the loser. The president has our best wishes as he strives to make us a more perfect union.
We are thankful and hopeful about the legal profession itself. For sure, there are still too many lawyers who succumb to ethical breaches or who act in ways that dishonor the practice of law. All lawyers should realize that they can advocate zealously for their clients and, at the same time, promote professionalism at the bar. That said, the vast majority of our colleagues work toward maintaining the highest standards of the profession and, at the same time, serving their clients well. We are thankful for who we are as lawyers, what we do and how we do it.
None of this is to suggest that our nation, state and profession are without flaws. We live among injustices, small and large, and must never yield in our quest to correct them. Let us promise, in the year ahead, to live by the high ideals that attracted us to the practice of law in the first place.