President's Page: Called to help our communities
Vol. 78, No. 2 / March - April 2022
John Grimm, 2021-22 Missouri Bar president, practices with The Limbaugh Firm in Cape Girardeau.
“Public service is a noble calling, and we need men and women of character to believe in their communities, in their states, and in their country.” - President George H.W. Bush
The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence might be considered our country’s original public servants. Nearly half of the group, 25 to be exact, were lawyers. But there were also physicians, merchants, plantation owners, and ministers who signed this historic document in the summer of 1776.
In the 246 years since, our country has been blessed to have countless men and women from all walks of life who have devoted their time and talents to benefit the public, and they’ve done so in a range of ways.
Throughout my professional career, I have been fortunate to have met many such public servants. That has been especially true during the past few years while serving as an officer of The Missouri Bar, in which I have made a special effort to connect with members of the General Assembly to discuss matters that are of interest to Missouri lawyers. Without question, we owe a debt of gratitude to the 197 members of the legislature – including 26 lawyers – who spend vast amounts of time away from their families and professions to serve Missouri citizens.
While serving in the General Assembly is an outstanding accomplishment, it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to service opportunities. For example, the governor appoints thousands of citizens to serve on roughly 200 boards and commissions. And there are tens of thousands of opportunities to serve on the local level. Missouri has 944 municipal governmental bodies, all of which need citizens to serve on the city council or board of alderman. Each of those cities and townships need volunteers for the park board, library board, or planning and zoning commission. School boards, volunteer fire departments, and water districts provide even more opportunities for service.
As lawyers, we have the knowledge, understanding, and critical thinking to provide valuable guidance and advice to all types of organizations. Without question, many of our colleagues have volunteered their time and talents to public service. In fact, a 2018 survey found that nearly nine in 10 Missouri lawyers volunteer in their communities. For those of you who are part of or have been part of boards or commissions, thank you. For those of you who work in our court system as judges, prosecutors, or public defenders, I appreciate your service. And for those of you who have provided pro bono legal work without expectation of renumeration, your contributions are invaluable.
But I believe we can do even more. Most of us have the ability to devote two or three extra hours a month to something beyond our regular work obligations. I encourage you to do so.
I want to particularly challenge newer lawyers to consider the ways in which you can serve your communities. I understand that some of you may be hesitant to get involved because of the level of commitment or financial sacrifice. Without question, establishing a new law practice is time consuming, and many of you are also building families. Still, I have no doubt that the personal enrichment from taking on a new role will be worth every shared minute. Time and time again, I have heard volunteers share that they get more out of their work than those they are assisting. Based on my own experiences, I believe that to be true.
If you need ideas for how to help, talk with your colleagues. I think you will find countless examples of work that others have done and places where your services are desperately needed.
Your service truly makes a difference. Thank you for considering my request.
Finally, know that The Missouri Bar is excited to learn about your personal and firm efforts in the community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell us about your work – you can even notify us on social media by using #MOLawyersHelp.