In Pursuit of Happiness
by David C. Anderson
2016-2017 OCBA President
Happiness is found in community. That was my message as I began this bar year as OCBA president. Those people with the most community are the happiest. Our bar association does many things, but above all else, it is a community. It’s a community where we can ask our neighbors (i.e., fellow lawyers) for help. We can rely on our neighbors. We eat together. We participate together. We become friends. We become our best selves. Even when there is no money in it, we work together to help the less fortunate. And from time to time, we may even listen to music and dance together. The OCBA is a vibrant community and I'm grateful to be a part of it.
As this bar year comes to a close, I am now more convinced than ever that happiness is found in community. I saw it in everything we did. I certainly saw it in our biggest events, like the Holiday Gala and the OCBF's Signature Event. Bar members attended those events just to be together. They came to the Holiday Gala to celebrate the holiday season with goodwill toward all, and they attended the Signature Event to celebrate the beginning of spring and help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund programs for the less fortunate. I saw it at the beautiful investiture ceremonies of our newest Circuit and Probate Court judges, the Honorable Victoria Valentine and the Honorable Jennifer Callaghan. The carefully chosen and heartfelt words spoken by the friends and family of the judges, and the judges themselves, at those investitures truly illustrated the deep interconnectedness of the bench, the bar and all those we serve together.
I also saw it on a smaller scale. Each of our many committees is a community unto itself. The Veterans Committee, for example, often took immediate action when they were contacted by veterans who needed pro bono representation and found it for them. Helping veterans find representation not only helps them resolve a legal problem, but it also reminds them that they are part of our community and that we value them. I've also seen this sense of community in the many events hosted by the New Lawyers Committee this year. The members of that committee have worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Frank C. Perez Youth Fund, which is designed to fund and support extracurricular academic, cultural and athletic activities for qualified youth. Again, the NLC's support of that fund not only helps poor kids afford such activities, but it lets them know that we, as a community, care about them. There are more examples coming from our committees of community breeding happiness than I can recount here.
When our careers come to an end, it won't be the big cases that we've won (or lost) that will be in the forefront of our minds. And if it is, I bet when we tell the story of that big case, we will tell it terms of the people who were involved in it with us. It will be the lawyers, judges, judicial staff, sheriffs, paralegals, legal assistants and clients we worked with all those years that we will remember. And it won’t be the big cases that define us. It will be how we treat each other that will do that. Our legal adversaries are also part of the community in which we live and work every day. "[D]o as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."1 Happiness truly is found in community.
As my time as president of the OCBA is coming to a close, I will continue to pursue happiness as is my unalienable right as an American. Those people with the most community are the happiest. I’ve been happy to serve you, and I thank you again for the opportunity.
1 Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew,” Act 1, Scene 2.