Lawyer as counselor, and the American dream

The UST Law mission is a defining characteristic that reverberates throughout all of its classes, programs, and publications, and sets the law school apart from its competitors. Through the mission, the UST Law not only trains and produces exceptional attorneys; it produces exceptional human beings and community leaders. While the mission has always meant a great deal to me, I once thought that to truly live the mission, one must be dedicated to non-profit work serving the poor.

The services that our colleagues are providing through pro-bono or low-cost legal services to those who otherwise would not be able to afford representation is exceptional and should be celebrated and supported. Similarly, I have come to learn and appreciate that an attorney in private practice can also truly live the mission in his or her career by serving clients and the profession through exceptional service and professionalism in an ethical manner.

The clients I serve on a daily basis range from those who are having trouble putting food on their table each night to those expanding and growing their businesses while living the American dream. Each of these clients provides me with an opportunity to “live the mission.”

To me, the mission partly means helping my clients navigate some of life’s biggest personal and professional struggles – whether that is a home foreclosure or the loss of a loved one – through sound advice and legal expertise. Often times this means extending the relationship beyond attorney/client to counselor. In the counselor relationship, I rely on my experience and professional training but can only be effective if I truly combine my faith with reason to give sound advice to those in need.

The other part of living the mission is helping those living the American dream prosper through integrating ethical and moral practices in their businesses and personal life. This may mean giving advice that some do not want to hear, as it may not be the easy way, but the right way. It may also be done through planning for the future by providing for those who are less fortunate through planned giving.

What does the mission mean to me? Everything. Do I live the mission? I certainly try to, and I encourage others to do the same. What I have learned over the years is that anyone, no matter what their ultimate calling is, can live the mission. It is truly remarkable to see so many graduates of our law school distinguishing themselves by doing just.

Jake Grassel ‘09 is an attorney with Howse & Thompson, P.A., where he practices in the areas of business law, real estate, land use and government relations.