What Greater Example?
As lawyers we struggle. As people, the struggles can be more complicated and difficult. Where is the satisfaction we seek? How is it that true happiness, not I-just-bought-a-“beamer” happiness, but true happiness can be obtained? The search for the life well lived can go on and on, frustrated by the confusion of our materialistic culture, our limited capacity to truly understand and our unlimited focus on feeling good…at this moment.
Some among us have the gift of a great instinct for living their lives well. It might be useful to identify and appreciate and model ourselves after those special people who possess that gift.
Consider the example of Jim McAuliffe. I suggest that we consider it now and deeply as most I think would benefit.
Are there any among us who knew Jim who did not marvel at the aura of peace and quiet confidence of the man? I have thought often of how in a life full of the profound challenges of the political world, of the legal world, of raising a family and of his own health problems, Jim could respond to all that confronted him, with a sense of quiet confidence and serenity.
I have my own answers, incomplete I feel, but deeply believed.
Jim McAuliffe as a member of the House of Delegates and Maryland State Senate was able to walk through the halls of power without fear or reserve because he was possessed of absolute integrity matched only perhaps by his father and brother. Jim McAuliffe as a lawyer took the kindness and loving nature of his mother and treated all of his clients from absolute titans of power and industry to the most humble of our fellow men and women and applied that extra dose of humanity to the fashioning of a solution of their problems. Jim as a judge magnificently applied his years of learning and his respect for the law but more importantly recognized the importance of bringing all of his humanity to the handling of cases. Sometimes this effort was the source of great internal agony. To be just, but to be merciful. To be intellectual, but to be human. To be a judge but to be a friend. To try, try, try.
As a human being, Jim drew from the strength, support and admiration of his most dear and wonderful wife and four children. In dealing with his fellow man, Jim humbly, truly humbly accepted that he had an ability, a gift to lift up his fellow brother or sister. He never walked away from that opportunity. While I never saw Jim attend to his own creature comforts, I have seen him give a basketball from the bench of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County to a lonely and disconnected soul. To provide a smile or just a light moment, he gave Teddy Bears to children caught in a maelstrom not of their making from the same bench and in every other setting he could think of. I never heard Jim McAuliffe, despite all his accomplishments, say a word about himself yet I have seen him talk gently and lovingly to Defendants, victims, lawyers, Court personnel, friends and strangers for as long as he sensed that he might be lifting them up. His smile and kindness touched countless souls, including the souls of the confused, the sorrowful, the needy and the lost.
Jim possessed integrity, wisdom, kindness and the ability to communicate his deep compassion for and to all. Jim wasn’t perfect, and he would be the first and loudest one to say so, but he was driven by a wonderful instinct to try, try, try, to never stop trying to help.
His peace and quiet confidence, the courage and calm with which he faced death, the universal admiration for him of those who knew him are easily explained.
His was a life well lived, truly and in every sense. We might do well to give this life some thought, and we might find great satisfaction in trying even with our inferior abilities to emulate Jim’s effort. We might just earn the ability to smile in the way that Jim did.
Jack Quinn, 2011-2012 President, Bar Association of Montgomery County, MD