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Clients Remind Us of the Meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s a great holiday - especially for those of us who enjoy food. There is more to it, however.

This week we disbursed a case we recently settled. The case was a very sad one, the suicide of a young veteran. There was not a lot of money involved and in some regards, we were surprised we got anything. Suicide cases are tough ones. After we wired the funds, the mother sent a short and simple email thanking us. At a moment when all the pain of her son’s tragic death must have hit her very hard, her immediate instinct was gratitude.

This mother’s reaction may seem out of place, but it is not. In our nationwide Federal Tort Claims Act practice we deal with many individuals and families who have been impacted by medical malpractice at government healthcare facilities. Sometimes the stories can break our hearts, especially if there is nothing we can do for them. And that is often the case. You might think that most of our clients and prospective clients would be bitter and unhappy.

They don’t know us and have often turned to us in desperation. Who could fault anyone for being cynical about lawyers, especially ones they likely have not met face-to-face and are located halfway across the country. Yet despite their often dire circumstances, most of the people who come to us are appreciative and thankful.

Our practice is a busy one. There are lots of moving parts. Sometimes the pressure is very real. There is always a problem of some sort or another. The cases are not easy and dealing with the government is challenging, to put it mildly. Yet I love what I do and overall I have been able to make a good living doing it. Many people cannot say that. In short, I am incredibly lucky. I wish I could say that I am consistently appreciative of this circumstance, but I cannot. On any given day, it’s often tempting to be unhappy and, yes, unappreciative of my very good fortune. Much has been given to me – health, education, family, and a great job. At least I should be grateful.

I don’t recall where I heard this expression, but it is a good one: Gratitude sanctifies life. It is so true. Many of our clients seem to grasp this instinctively. Their more fortunate attorney needs to be reminded occasionally. I suppose all of us do from time to time, but

I thank our clients for re-teaching me this valuable lesson.

It’s Thanksgiving. The name of the holiday says it all. Give thanks – and don’t forget to keep doing so after the food has all been consumed and everything has been cleaned up.


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