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Lessons From Janus and Cicero
How Majoring in Classics Made Me a Better Lawyer
The month of January was actually named for the Roman god Janus. According to legend, Janus was the god of gates, doors, archways, and new beginnings. He had two faces: one looking forward and the other looking backward, mimicking the way a door can swing in both directions. Personally, I think Janus was the perfect choice for the first month of the year because a new year is both an ending (in this case, the ending of an entire decade!) and a beginning. It’s a doorway we pass through on our way to whatever comes next. This year mulling over the legend of Janus sent me all the way back to college. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, I majored in Latin, history, and classical culture, so Roman culture was my bread and butter. In retrospect, being a Classics major had a profound impact on the person I am today, and both my professors and the historical figures populating my textbooks shaped me as a lawyer. One particular classics professor, Dr. James Anderson Jr., was a wonderful mentor. I’m so thankful I was able to take his classes and learn from him, and I still consider him a friend. We meet to catch up from time to time, and I always look forward to reminiscing about the summer abroad I took in Rome under his supervision. It was 2005, and I understood even then that having the opportunity to explore the city and learn from a professor who’d spent his life studying Roman archeology was priceless. During my studies, I also came across the life and philosophy of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was a Latin orator and statesman, and his story helped me realize the foundation of law is a bit like Janus: It requires looking back at past precedents and forward at future possibilities simultaneously. One thing I’ll never forget about Cicero is his passion for the concept of “humanitas,” or humanity, in law. He recognized that law isn’t cold and calculating, but rooted in the humanity of people and culture. Cicero taught that every person we encounter in law is a very real person, and that really resonated
with me as a college student. I decided then and there I’d never lose sight of Cicero’s idea. My clients would always be people to me and my staff, never numbers or dollar signs. I’ve held myself to that standard throughout the years, and I view my clients as not only people but, in many cases, friends. Looking ahead to 2020, I can promise more of the same! Speaking of looking forward, I took a few minutes to ponder the other facet of Janus this month, too. I’ve decided that in the future, all things being equal, I’d love to retire years from now back to Athens, Georgia, and take a few classes in Greek at UGA. I think any future full of knowledge is a bright one. If there’s anything I can do for you this month to help you move forward into the new year don’t hesitate to call my office. You can reach me at 404-566-5880 or Kevin@patricktriallaw.com. I’m ready to help.
This publication is for informational purposes only, and no legal advice is intended.
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