Giving Back

Have you ever been in need? Did someone come to your aid? How did it make you feel? What have you done lately to give back?

Let me share a story which I told at the installation lunch in January. When I was in the eighth grade, my Boy Scout Troop went on a snow camp trip to Dodge Ridge. Even though I was only thirteen, the fourteen and fifteen year old boys let me sneak out of the cabin with them one night – I felt so cool! We took a long walk into town. It was freezing cold and I only had my tennis shoes and one pair of socks. Half way through the walk my feet started getting numb, but I was too embarrassed to say anything. By the time we got back to the cabin I was in great pain and I was afraid I had frost bite. One of the older boys, John (not his real name), saw me crying and he kindly helped me get my shoes off and rubbed my feet and reassured me that it would be okay. That scout trip was one of the best trips I will always remember.

Fast forward 10 years – it was my first week of law school at BYU. I could tell I was in over my head (fun fact: I never wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school because I did much better on the LSAT than the GMAT). The straw that broke my emotional back was when a pipe in my bathroom sink burst and flooded my apartment. The carpet began to smell and I felt like I could not go on with any of it. Just as I was at the end of my rope, who shows up, but John! I had not seen John for years, but for some reason we ended up in the same apartment complex and he chose that time to drop by. As he had so many years before, he noticed my distress and returned a few minutes later with a large fan and a carpet knife. Even though I was just a renter, he cut the carpet, pulled it back, exposed the wood and set the fan on it. He took care of me when I needed help. It made all the difference in the world. My emotional breakdown was averted and I made it through the rest of the week – and law school.

About three years ago I got a call from John. I had not seen him for years. He said that life had not turned out the way he thought it would. His kids and wife and moved out and he was wondering if I could refer him to a good family lawyer. I knew just who to refer him to – an outstanding family law attorney who is a member of the CCCBA. For once, it was my turn to help him when he was in need. Later he thanked me for the referral and the advice given to help him make a logical cost benefit analysis of whether to fight or settle.

So often we have the opportunity to use our legal backgrounds to repay favors from long ago or provide tremendous relief to a friend in need.
My message this month is to look for ways to give back. It feels right. You can make a difference. It will also enrich your life.

If you need any ideas of things you can do to help check out the Pro Bono/Volunteer Opportunities information on the CCCBA website (under the Build Your Practice tab). These are just a few ways we can give back to our community. There are many more. Find the one that calls to you and help make somebody’s life a little bit better.


Philip M. Andersen is the Managing Attorney of the State Farm Insurance Company In-House Litigation Department in Pleasanton. (Philip M. Andersen & Associates). He has extensive litigation and trial experience defending policy holders in personal injury lawsuits. He has been managing in-house insurance litigation offices since 1994. Contact Phil at (925) 225-6838 or philip.andersen.nx3z@statefarm.com.

Filed Under: President's MessageSpotlight

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