cbaReportFeb13 - page 8

February 2013 CBA REPORT
cover article
yellow legal pad needs to make judgment
calls about the winning theme or story
composed out of experience, evidence,
inference, common sense, credibility,
rules of law, argument and so on. In law
and painting, these judgments need, I
believe, an element of inspiration if the
desired outcome depends, as it frequently
does, on persuading others to see the pic-
ture as the client and the advocate sees it.
The facts and law are necessary, but not
always sufficient, to persuade.
Meaningful Role
I asked one of my law partners what
inspires him and he said, “When the
client’s successful and thanks me for my
role in that.” Being a contributor to the
client’s mission is a privilege for the law-
yer and, I believe, motivates him or her
to do their best. Conversely, clients who
view their lawyers as nothing more than
piecework technicians will likely miss
opportunities for getting the most from
their lawyers. It’s ultimately up to the
client to decide what role legal counsel
will have. But the lawyer can educate the
client on how an attorney-client relation-
ship based on mutual dedication to the
client’s mission is better than one based
only on a piecemeal set of narrow tasks.
The lawyer seeking a meaningful role
needs to be willing to invest some volun-
teer time for the client and its interests.
Serving on a board, helping pass a levy,
leading a task force, contributing to a
fundraiser, supporting a cause … the
opportunities are all around. The lawyers
I know who have been most happy with
their career choice are ones who have
experienced a meaningful role, appreci-
ated by the client, in service to the client’s
central purposes that the lawyer finds
meaningful as well.
Keep Looking, Don’t Miss It
One of the best things an arts educa-
tion can do for a child — or for a person
at any stage of life — is to sensitize the
person to what inspiration feels like. If a
teacher or parent takes notice, tapes the
child’s drawing to the refrig or smiles
though the trumpet recital, the child
learns in a nonverbal way to trust his
or her ability to create something. Later
in life, there’s still a lot to learn about
inspiration, where it comes from, what
it feels like, how it applies to our lives,
vocations and avocations. The arts say:
look again, keep looking, take your time,
don’t miss it.
I remember the first time I saw An-
drew Wyeth’s painting
Christina’s World
in person at the Museum of Modern Art
in New York. There were the familiar
Wyeth terms: a rural setting, a treeless
field, a scattering of grey farm buildings
atop a distant hill.
But the remarkable part was the
subject in the foreground, Christina
Olsen, a 55-year old woman with a
physical disability (perhaps polio) that
left her unable to walk through the field.
Wyeth had seen her “walk” by pulling
herself through the field, the farm in the
distance, toward which she has turned
and is looking in the painting.
tina’s World
teaches something about
inspiration which Wyeth has captured
in pigment but I’m unable to capture in
words except indirectly. It presents the
viewer with the image of another’s world,
L e a v e a l e ga c y o f
s e c u r e a b r i g h t
f uture
Encourage your clients to bring hope where there is despair,
love where there is loneliness and faith where there is emptiness.
To learn more about legacy gift opportunities with
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul contact Karen Williams,
Director of Development, at 513-562-8841 ext. 225.
“disabled” to be sure by polio but “en-
abled” by individual courage and beauty
as stark as Wyeth’s palette. The health
and elder care clients we represent have
many real-time
Christina’s Worlds.
In describing the process of paint-
ing, I use the metaphor of a trail with
markers along the way. The first marker
that influences everything else in the
painting is the why, just as it did with
Wyeth’s masterpiece. The route of being
a lawyer has many pathways, as well as a
few hurdles, to seeing the inspiring whys
of our profession.
Keep looking. Take your time. Don’t
miss it.
© Bruce I. Petrie, Jr. 2012
Lawyer, painter and author, Bruce I. Petrie, Jr. is a
partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Graydon Head
. He has written two books
about law and painting: AHLA’s Healthcare Labor
and Employment Practice Guide (co author) and Trail
of the Brush: A Painter’s Guide. His artwork can be
viewed at
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