There’ll be two things you’ll need to know about me before we proceed:
Thing 1: I was a collegiate debater. Lincoln-Douglas was just about my style. I was pretty good, actually. People compared me to a young Dave Trumble, right down to an affinity for the plaid. But, my team was even better: we were the national runner-up in 2000, losing the national championship by one point. I’ve helped the team to the extent I’ve been able since I graduated college; and, the Saint Anselm College Jack LynchInvitational Tournament is next weekend. . . . But, I digress.
Thing 2: When I was in practice, I always tried to involve myself in pro bono activities, including those related to performing substantive legal work, sitting on a couple of non-profit boards and even engaging in non-legal charity endeavors. Like the vast majority of attorneys, I felt that it was the right thing to do, even given the long hours that most lawyers put in at the office/working on for-profit matters.
This is National Pro Bono Week, and the National Pro Bono Celebration website is chock full of useful and inspirational stories about pro bono involvement. Of course, the prevailing economic situation makes it difficult for anyone to live comfortably any longer, and so it is particularly impressive to see that lawyers still strive to profit from a number of quality pro bono projects, like these.
So, What was all that introductory matter about? Well, it speaks to the importance of attorneys’ charitable work; but, it also underscores the point that pro bono work for lawyers need not all be substantive legal work.
To that end, you may consider giving back by volunteering to coach a high school team, or to judge at tournaments, for the Boston Debate League, a non-profit organization that endeavors to promote the creation and growth of debate teams in local schools, in order to offer disadvantaged students a better chance at future success, including improved odds at getting into, and successfully completing, college. As I referenced, I was a collegiate debater, and have remained involved with the team (from assisting with research questions, to talking about strategy with current team members, and judging tournaments), across the *>ahem<* years, since I graduated from college myself. And, I can tell you that coaching and judging can be as intellectually stimulating and rewarding as debating yourself. The Boston Bar Association has created a strategic partnership with the BDL, and further information for persons interested in volunteering for the BDL is accessible here. The most immediate need for the BDL is the acquisition of judges for their weekend tournaments, since there are so many schools to accommodate as participants, and consequently a good number of rounds to judge. No experience is necessary to become a judge, just a willingness to participate–though, lawyers will find that many of the skills that debaters wield are similar to those that lawyers utilize in their day-to-day practice lives.
. . .
I think that, given the preceding topic, we should cover some songs that involve debating, if not formally; so, these are some story songsfeaturing plying arguments, disagreements, and more of that sort of generalized back-and-forth:
“It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy
“Argue” by Matchbox 20
“Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul
and MC Skat Kat
and MC Skat Kat
“I Don’t Like You” by Bo Diddley and Cornelia Redmond
“Jackson” by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon
“I Got a Man” by Positive K
“Parallel Bars” by Robbie Fulks and Kelly Willis
“How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?” by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell
“Picking Up After You” by Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle
Incidentally, there are two movies about debate that I have seen: “Listen To Me” and “Rocket Science”, neither of which are very good, and both of which are completely unrealistic: kind of like lawyer shows . . . Am I right?