By Jeremy M. Evans
My sisters have beautiful stories to tell. Growing up with five older sisters, three older brothers, and two wonderful parents, mom and dad, who just celebrated 50 years of marriage, was, to say the least, an amazing experience. My mother, jokingly, often told me growing up that had I been the first, I would have been the last! Learning from these experiences was one of the better lessons learned in life.
Appreciating and celebrating women has always been rather easy since my experiences growing up were guided by a majority of women in the household—and of course, they are all terrific examples to follow. My sisters have shown and provided kindness, respect, appreciation, a listening ear, and a discerning voice, all the while showering the family with their love. My sisters and brothers have gone on to welcome 35 children into the world (45 total with children by marriage and great-grandkids) while being outstanding mothers, wives, contributing members of their communities, and general givers of grace and love to all. It is easy to be in awe of their grace, humility, and strength.
Similarly, my grandmothers and grandfathers were terrific teachers and “ambassadors of quan,” as Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the Oscar-winning film “Jerry Maguire” would say.
This is all not to mention the amazing in-laws, cousins, aunts, and uncles in the family. Our communities have such a deep impact on our growth as professionals and attorneys. Our families are essential to our growth. The beauty of life is being able to navigate the challenges and learn from the experiences with the help of our families and communities.
In the legal community, one of my first mentors was a woman. A litigation partner at a major law firm who welcomed me into my first legal industry role prior to attending law school. Some of the brightest moments in my life and career have been because of the help, guidance, and appreciation of women.
It is also true that many of the life and legal experiences through time are best when we welcome people as people. When we treat people with kindness regardless of our differences. Growing up with eight older brothers and sisters definitely taught me valuable lessons.
Some of these lessons include the ability to listen. The ability to care. The ability to fight for what is right and needed. The ability to see the forest and the trees. The ability to love and to have hope. In many ways, I was lucky because I had so many examples to follow and learn from.
The lessons we learn at home are just as important and applicable in the courtroom, boardroom, and classroom. We, as attorneys, must sometimes reflect on the lessons learned as children. As a child and teenager, a beautiful poem by Robert Fulghum sat on my nightstand. In the digital age, it is now entrusted in my mind.
The poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten,” reads as follows:
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to appreciate those around us a little bit more. Welcome them and be thankful for the blessings. Act civilly and consider health and wellness, always. And maybe, the above poem might just become the rallying call for the California Lawyers Association, our outstanding members, the legal community, and beyond. After all, as attorneys, we must be leaders. We have sacrificed and been blessed with too much that we must lead by example.
Wishing You All the Best,
Jeremy M. Evans
President, California Lawyers Association