President’s Message: December-January 2017

Always Stay Humble and Kind

By Bridget Penick

Bridget Penick, president

So much has happened in this world – this country – this state – this county – since my last president’s message in early October. I’ll refrain from political commentary on the presidential election, but focus on the positive and express gratitude at the results of the judicial retention election. Thank you to each of you who helped educate a friend or family member on the purpose of our judicial retention election process. Thanks to all who attended the ribbon cutting for the Polk County Justice Center. Congratulations to the National Bar Association for the groundbreaking on “A Monumental Journey.”

Anyone who knows me knows that music is important to me. Only a handful of you who know me well may recall that I was a country music DJ at KCUI while attending Central College. Blame it all on my roots, but country song lyrics speak to me. As we are in the midst of the holiday season, yet also in the midst of a very divided and embittered country, (and yes, as I tried but was unable to get great tickets to the Soul 2 Soul concert coming to Des Moines next summer), I find myself singing these lyrics of late:

“When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kind.”

From “Humble and Kind”, written by Lori McKenna and performed by Tim McGraw

As lawyers, we dutifully attend CLEs and amass our ethics credits. We hear speeches about civility. We know we are duty-bound to act with “professional courtesy and professional integrity in the fullest sense of those terms.” Iowa Standards for Professional Conduct, Rule 33.1(1). Are we collectively fulfilling this obligation? Are you personally living it? Or, has the negativity and turmoil in the last few months led us astray?

I recall when moving from Chicago to Des Moines 15+ years ago, a lawyer I still often oppose in matters gave me a bit of advice that has stuck with me ever since. He said something along the lines of, “Bridget, you’re in Iowa now. Our bar is a small one. There’s no need for Chicago posturing.” While I certainly didn’t take his comments to mean we should not zealously advocate for our clients, I have appreciated the congeniality of the bar here that does not exist in all communities. I am writing this to remind myself as much as I am writing it to my fellow lawyers:

  • Be a humble winner and gracious loser. Call and congratulate opposing counsel on a favorable outcome.
  • Send a note to a senior lawyer to acknowledge the mentoring you received. Then take an associate to lunch and share your story.
  • Show appreciation for our public servants, even if you don’t share political ideology. Recognize the service of our judicial administration, law enforcement, military, elected officials, and others.
  • Give selflessly. Time, talent, or treasures–or better yet, all three. (Shameless plug to take a VLP case. Your help is needed!)

“Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you.
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind.” Id.