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Bar News - January 13, 2012

President’s Perspective: Goodbye 2011...Welcome 2012


Jennifer L. Parent
You know that song we sing every New Year’s Eve? The one about not forgetting old acquaintances that is commonly played after the ball drops in Times Square? Each year we find ourselves singing the words to Auld Lang Syne, but what does it mean? From a Scottish poem, the words translate loosely to "for old times" or "times long past." As the last stroke of midnight sounds in the New Year, we hear these Gaelic lyrics of celebration and hope that have come to symbolize both an ending and a new beginning.

This tradition provides a time for reflection. Set to the melody of an old folk tune, revelers around the world can be heard singing the well known chorus. It goes
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
To move forward into the New Year, it seems logical that we must remember times long since. We should recall those people we have met over the years and the impressions they have left on us. We should reflect upon prior events in our lives and recount our joys. Each experience allows us, upon reflection, to then focus on where we have been and where we want to go.

This time of year, something comes over all of us. We look to start over and to begin a new way of thinking. Despite how busy we are, we find ourselves cleaning out our offices – rearranging our desk drawers and going through the stacks of articles we intended to read at a later date. It is somewhat liberating to clear the decks. This instinctive cleansing is a way for us to make space for the upcoming year. We need room for our next goals and resolutions. We need to be ready for what comes next. As for me, during this time, some of those articles wind up in the wastebasket without having been read. Chalk it up to good intentions.

People have been making New Year’s Resolutions for many years. Resolutions are personal commitments – promises to ourselves. While they should be realistic, these pledges should also be something that we strive to accomplish during the next 12 months. It is all about successfully achieving our resolutions by the next New Year.

According to the experts, resolutions are more likely to be upheld when shared with others. For this reason, as we say goodbye to 2011, I have three resolutions for all of you to consider for 2012. If we share in these resolutions, we can hope to realize them together.

1. Resolve to learn something new. You can learn something new to advance your career, improve your life, or just for kicks. Step outside your comfort zone. Take the time to do something that you have wanted to do for a long time but thought you never had the time. There is a whole world of opportunities out there for you. Incorporate one new piece of technology into your law practice, start a blog, or learn a new area of the law. Maybe it is time to learn another language, take up an instrument, or sign up for an art class. If you have ever wanted to learn to dance the Tango, take a cooking class, or travel to a new place and learn about the culture, do it this year. Whatever you choose for this resolution, enjoy and have fun learning along the way.

2. Take time for your health. Experts report that regular exercise and physical activity are important and provide significant long-term health benefits. Taking the time for a check-up and to care for your health also helps with your overall frame of mind. So find the time to fit in some exercise during your day – whether it is walking, taking the stairs, or going to the gym. Even if it is only 30 minutes, do it. Working out may seem like the easiest thing to skip or cut out when you are busy, but you will be better off in the long run if you keep this appointment with yourself.

3. Volunteer this year. While many resolutions are about improving one self, resolve this year to give back. Volunteerism is an important part of society. As Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." There are so many ways you can help make a difference. Join a nonprofit board, help out at a local charity, or take a case from the Pro Bono Program. If you are a more seasoned lawyer, share your knowledge and experience by becoming a mentor for the New Lawyers Committee. Volunteering can open up a new world of experiences. You will find that by keeping this resolution, you will reap many rewards.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year. Here is to 2012 and realizing our resolutions!

Jennifer L. Parent is the 2011-2012 President of the New Hampshire Bar Association and is a director at the law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton.

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