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Governance & Membership

President's Message - February 2021

Inspired by a Short Story, Classic Movie Shares Important Messages

By Mike Mordy

Every Christmas season my wife, Christy, is excited for me to watch with her the 1946 Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. It is the movie starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, Donna Reed as his wife and Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter. You will remember it is the story about George Bailey, who thought he was a failure and who was given the opportunity to come back and see the world as it would have been had he not been born, which is made possible through his guardian angel, Clarence. George Bailey is a good man with young ambitions, but he has been so busy helping others that he believes he is a failure and that life has passed him by.

I was given a book this Christmas called The Greatest Gift, which is the original short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, self-published in 1943, from which the movie It’s a Wonderful Life came. The story was originally issued as a privately printed booklet the author sent out as Christmas cards in 1943. The producer of the movie told Jimmy Stewart that the two main ideas for the story were that no one is born to be a failure and no one is poor who has friends. The Greatest Gift is a short, wonderful story and a reminder that we all have a purpose in life.

I ran upon a small, golden ring this Christmas, at about the same time I received The Greatest Gift. The ring was given to my newborn daughter 40 years ago by an attorney friend of mine. He was a great guy, great lawyer and very compassionate person, but who unfortunately took his life in 1997. Another attorney friend of mine took his life a couple of months ago. He too was a very compassionate, fun and witty guy and a great attorney who zealously represented his clients. Both of these attorneys had a profound effect upon many people’s lives before their deaths and would have continued to do so had their lives not abruptly ended.

I mention all of this because we need to remember that we as attorneys do more than just represent businesses and banks and oil companies, but we help people steer through situations that may seem small to us but are desperate situations to them. We often times offer our legal services to people not just on a pro bono basis but are unwittingly helping people through situations that appear insurmountable to them and consequently make a difference in their lives.

We need to be vigilant in checking on our attorney brothers and sisters, and ourselves, especially during this odd season of our life. We need to make sure we all know we have a purpose in life, especially as attorneys, and that the legal services we have provided have helped people in the past and will continue to help people in the future.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 92 (February 2021)