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Rule # 3:  Work on your eulogy, not your resume.

Columnist David Brooks has written an interesting bestseller and NY TIME Op-Ed.    He suggests some useful life lessons for defense attorneys.

He offers two sets of competing virtues  — the resume virtues ; and the eulogy virtues.  Resume virtues are typified by the credentials a litigator brings to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones which are honored at funerals – that he/she was kind, brave, or faithful.

 Mr. Brooks deplores the fact that our culture and educational systems spend more time teaching career success than enlightenment.  He worries about those who “lack a moral vocabulary.” or “slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity.”

 He admires those with:

 ·         Humility — people who have identified their own character defects and grown.

·         Self defeat – those who discern  their own weaknesses  and make themselves strong in those areas.

·         Outside help – those who recognize we’re not iron men of willpower  who have achieved self-mastery.    We carry with us a lot of unfortunate self- will and ambition.  Our selfishness, pride, or self-deception are constants – so we all need a little help from the outside.

·         Energizing love  — those who are lucky enough to find an affection that goes beyond aggrandizement;  recognizing the true riches that can be found in others.

·         The “call with call” – lawyers who realize that their career can become a true calling.   That means something beyond money, status, and security.  It involves striving for a standard of excellence inherent in the craft.

·         The “conscience leap”  — counsel who have the ability to keep all the status symbols and prestige I proper perspective and develop true empathy for others.

Mr. Brooks suggests that inner peace does not lie in asking “what do I want from life?.”   Rather, the key question may be “How can I be of service?   How can I match my talents to the world’s deep needs?”   


As a young lawyer at a now-defunct air base in Sherman, TX, I thought I had a great idea for the base masquerade party.  I’d come as The Judge Advocate General.  To do this,  I prepared a name tag and went to the clothing sales store  to buy general’s stars.

 What a commotion I caused.

 The word quickly spread on  base – supposedly, some Colonel was being promoted.  Several O-6s who thought  they were in the running became depressed since they were not the mysterious purchaser of the stars.

 All this because one naïve JAG Lieutenant thought it would be fun to play “the general” at Friday night’s masquerade party,  Boy, did I hear about that! 

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