Jakob Wissel on Why Charity Counts in the Development of a Lawyer
Jakob Wissel has devoted thousands of hours to community service. But does a philanthropic spirit serve a future lawyer? Wissel thinks it does, and here are the reasons why.
Philanthropy motivates the study of the law.
Like many other students of the law, Jakob Wissel entered the field with the intention of realizing its noble ideals. While all attorneys gain perspective on their ideals as they practice, bringing a philanthropic spirit to the law at the beginning of study energizes and sustains the hard work of learning it.
Philanthropy opens new perspectives on the clients lawyers serve.
Lawyers who give back to their communities gain an understanding of the people in them. They are better prepared to help their future clients understand difficult legal realities those clients might prefer to ignore. They have learned the compassion for clients facing life challenges that makes it easier for their firms to achieve a good result.
Philanthropic endeavors are a unique exercise in networking.
Networking isn’t all about connecting to power brokers, or at least not to power brokers in an obvious, conventional sense. Every lawyer occasionally needs to rely on referent authority, respect for bringing good things to the community as a whole. Reaching a good result for clients sometimes requires skills at bridging the gap between people of means and people who feel, and often are, disenfranchised.
Philanthropy develops a unique set of problem-solving skills.
Every organization devoted to doing good confronts needs greater than its resources. Volunteers who are deeply immersed in social service learn to think outside their boxes to find the resources their clients need. They reassess rules and regulations to benefit their clients. They bring a fresh perspective to old problems.
Philanthropy develops a unique set of communications skills.
Church missions, Jakob Wissel believes, aren’t all about actualizing spiritual beliefs with community service. They are also about learning how to communicate with new communities. Missioners literally learn the language of the target communities. They learn how to respond to the emotions of people in distress, directing their conversations toward a goal.
Philanthropy encourages teamwork.
Philanthropic endeavors can run something like a chorus. Most of the time the singers focus on achieving harmony, but solos are usually the highlight of a performance.
Wissel has invested time in service in his church in Florida and on mission trips to Peru and Costa Rica. He chose areas of service that require dependable performance on a weekly basis, such as acolyte. He has served the needy across the age spectrum, from Elder Care to Salvation Army. Jakob Wissel brings the character of a philanthropist to the practice of the law.