What I Learned as a Boy Scout

by Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
Contact

Boy ScoutMy son recently joined the Cub Scouts. It brings back memories of my time as a Scout 25 years ago.

Some of my best memories (and stories) are from when I was a Scout.  Scouts then, as it still is now, wasn’t a particularly cool thing to do.  You weren’t going to make it into the yearbook popularity polls or get a girlfriend by being a Scout. 

But that was fine. 

For me and my motley crew of friends – outcasts, athletes, pranksters, geniuses, wallflowers, loud mouths, Sunday schoolers and gun-nuts - we knew we had the inside scoop on something special. 

We learned really cool things like how to start a fire with batteries and steel wool, how to skin a snake and cook it for dinner, and how to shoot a bow. 

Things that have absolutely no practical application in my life now.

What I didn’t realize though was that while I was learning all of that “cool” stuff I was really learning something more valuable. I was learning life lessons. 

I just didn’t know it.

As a lawyer, and as an advocate and counselor to those in the construction industry, three lessons in particular from my Scouting days seem reoccurring in my career.

Appearance Matters

When you first become a Scout you get a uniform.  Not only is there a particular uniform you have to get, there’s a particular way you have to wear it, and particular places where you put all of your patches.

In the Scouts, appearance counts. Not just in how you wear your uniform, but more importantly, in how you act. Scouts helping the elderly across the street, helping ladies with their grocery bags, and being kind to stranger, are as much a part of the Scout image, as the uniform.  “Do a good turn daily” is the slogan of the Boy Scouts.  As a Scout you join a brotherhood of Scouts worldwide, and just as you should take care in how you wear your uniform, your conduct should not tarnish the uniform you wear.

Whether you’re a Scout, a lawyer, or a contractor, your conduct reflects how other will see you.  Be courteous and professional. Review your contracts before signing them because gentlemen know that promises are more than just words on paper.  When negotiating, negotiate hard but be reasonable, because it sets the tone for your working relationship, and both parties wouldn’t have contracted to begin with if they didn’t need what the other is providing.  When doing your work do your best because, ultimately, the sum of who you are is what you do.  If there are changes, it should be agreed to in writing, both because it’s professional and helps to avoid disputes later on, and disputes (as we know) have an odd way of spawning further disputes. And, if there’s a dispute, listen first and try to see things from the other side’s vantage point, because there is often more advantages to resolving a dispute than litigating them.

You Need a Moral Compass

Appearances are important, but only you know who you are.  In the Boy Scouts you learn the Scout Law – A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. That’s a tall order, at times contradictory, and I’ve stumbled many times.

You don’t need to follow the Scout Law. Religion might be a better fit.  Or something you’ve learned from someone you admire.  Or something you’ve developed entirely on your own.  Whatever it may be, you need one. Morality is what separates us from other animals and what makes us uniquely human.  

To some, lawyers are perhaps the most amoral of professionals. And they may be right about some lawyers.  But not all lawyers, nor would I say, the vast majority of lawyers. Lawyers are trained to understand the law. And laws often have a moral premise. But applying the law to any given set of facts can, at times, be difficult. I’ve had to fire clients and I’ve had clients fire me because of differences of opinion. And that’s fine. I’m not a hired gun who cares only about the bottom line, and either should you.

You can be the contractor who burns their subcontractors or the one who treats them like a partner. It’s your choice. You might be able to make a fast buck by burning your subcontractors but it’s just as likely that you’ll get burned as well. So why not take the high road? The air is fresher, the views far better, and in the end you’ll feel much better about yourself.

Poker

Good deeds and campfire skits weren’t the only things we did in my troop. We had the occasional fight, we pulled pranks on each other pretty regularly, but the one thing we always did . . . was play poker. Crazy poker with crazy names like Pass the Trash, Elevator, Baseball, Kung Fu, and my favorite (for obvious reasons) Black Murai.

There was a lot of trash talking during our games. And, if you made a bonehead move, you could be sure that would be called out. But that’s what was great about it. You could laugh at others, and laugh at yourself, because you could be yourself.

Lawyering is serious business. Construction is a tough business. But what I’ve learned is that sometimes, not all the times, but sometimes, at the right time and place, you need to let your guard down for a moment. You need to talk honestly with the other side about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, where you did things right and where you did things wrong, because as good as our legal system is at achieving fundamental fairness, human affairs are always best managed and actual fairness most often achieved when self regulated.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
Contact
more
less

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.