Rest in Peace, Leonard Campbell

The Association of Trial Lawyers wants to change its name to "The American Association of Justice" because, well, people just don't like lawyers. I will write more about that for tomorrow's postings. In the meantime, however, it's worth passing along the news of a death this weekend of a wonderful lawyer, and a personal friend, whose life in the law ought to remind attorneys and laypeople alike that there can be great humor and kindness and wisdom and joy in the profession.

Chance are you did not know or even meet Leonard M. Campbell. He was a Denver attorney who served clients and his community for more than 50 years. He was a mentor for me when I was a young lawyer, just starting out, and his lessons about keeping perspectives while battling through a case remain with me a decade and a half later. It was in Leonard's office-- he was a senior partner, remember-- where we met on St. Patrick's Day for a morning shot of irish whiskey. It was Leonard who went to all the firm functions and tried to meet and talk with and listen to all the young attorneys. It was Leonard who reminded us to have fun, and save time for our friends and family, and enjoy things in life that had nothing to do with the law. All that he was, and an amazingly creative and prosperous lawyer, too.

The trial lawyers' association doesn't need a new name. It needs more people like Leonard. Let me put it another way: if every person in this country knew only one attorney, and that attorney was Leonard, the legal profession would be beloved and not scorned.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 18, 2006; 12:00 PM ET
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