I believe that when one gives to another, the giver should expect nothing in return. Of course, in business, that is not true,because there are contracts. But, if we do something purely out of the goodness of our hearts, you cannot expect a reward. That is. True giving, true charity. There should be no strings attached.
Practicing law is different. It is the way I make my livelihood. I handle cases because a believe in them (hopefully) but I need to pay bills. Occasionally, I have cases where the issue is more important than money. They come in two categories:
1. REPRESENTING AN AMAZING PERSON
Recently, I represented a wonderful, long-term employee was fired from his public service job. After the jury want out to deliberate, my client came up to me and my co-counsel and staff and told us that he was satisfied. He thought the jury really heard his story. He felt vindicated. The one was irrelevant. That comment is one of the most meaningful and gratifying statements that it was almost enough. The jury then awarded actual and punitive damages and it was great. But, satisfying our client made the most difference. Our client told us both before the jury decision and after that the money didn't matter and to him, winning didn't matter. He wanted to be heard and understood. After he felt heard and understood, that was enough. The rest was gravy.
2. REPRESENTING PEOPLE ON ISSUES OF UNIVERSAL IMPORTANCE
Up until the 1970s it was illegal, moreover criminal, to be married to a person of a different race in Virginia and other states. Not until the case of Loving v. Virginia did the Supreme Court abolish these laws. Women in this country did not have the vote until 1920. Same sex marriage was forbidden in most of the United States until this past June. We fought a war to end slavery. These human rights breakthroughs do not come easily. It is hard to fight those in power to obliterate the status quo. Many people died to free the slaves, but today we all recognize how horrible and inhuman slavery is. It is beyond belief to most of us that a mere 150 years ago this country allowed its citizens to own humans. The drafters of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution must have felt gratified. There is nothing like feeling your work will historically be considered just and fair.
The goal of lawyers should not be simply to make money. This is a profession. Lawyers have a higher calling. We need to remember what lawyering is supposed to be.