Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 4, Pg. 46.
Creating a Cultureof Giving
GSB JournalVol. 14, NO. 4December 2008Creating a Cultureof GivingLauren Larmer BarrettCulture-it's a word we use in a variety of ways. In this context, the definition that best fits is: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. Our profession is generally accused of having a culture of deceit and greed. The perception by the public and our own colleagues is unfortunate and harmful-harmful to the public, harmful to the profession in general and particularly harmful to the individual attorneys whose self-esteem can be eroded by this misconception.
The public is not likely to have much faith in the justice system if they regard it as greedy and dishonest. Our profession is harmed when individuals who would make wonderful attorneys and jurists are turned off by that view and choose not to go to law school, or who leave the practice without making the contribution they are capable of doing. It's difficult to feel that you are mistrusted by those you meet just because you have a J.D. There are many ways to encourage a positive mindset among the members of the profession. One of the best is to encourage giving.
Giving is a topic that has been in the news a lot in the past two years or so. The incredible outpouring of support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the more recent tornados was inspiring. The generosity of the public for the victims of fires and floods throughout the world has been heartwarming. The positive public attention encourages more people to help, it provides opportunities to seek more assistance and it adds something positive to the news cycle every day. One of the biggest benefits of giving does not lie in the recognition it generates; it does not lie in the gratitude of the recipient, but rather, it is found within the donor. Generosity actually creates a mental and physical change in the giver. It releases higher levels of positive chemicals in the brain. It lowers stress levels because it pulls the giver's attention away from their own issues as they help someone else with their problems. It increases self-esteem because the giver is able to give something that is greatly valued by the recipient. A recent study by the Harvard Business School...