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Lawyers are People Too

Lawyers are People Too

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Published by: sbnsite on Jan 17, 2012
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10 Nevada Lawyer
14 Nevada Lawyer
December 2010
 There is no denying that a career as a lawyer is a timeconsuming one. Some of you shared your tips on dealingwith the balancing act between work and family that sucha career necessitates (see page 6). However, in spite of thechallenges, many of our members are finding the time todo much, much more outside of the office. The State Barof Nevada is made up of attorneys who are writers andmusicians, athletes, history buffs, sports fans and truehumanitarians. Read on for some of their stories…
Matthew P. Digestitook his first internationaltrip this year and headedto Kenya, where he andhis associates visited anorphanage. He travelledthere with Thinkkindness,an organizationdedicated to makinga difference in thelives of children inthird-world nations.He and his teamcarried with them,along with theirgood intentions,210 pairs of shoes,notebooks, pens,pencils, jumpropes, soccerballs, Frisbees,art supplies andmedical supplies.The experience was an eye-opening one for Digesti andhis colleagues, most of whom had never been more than astone’s throw from comfort or at least familiarity. His teamdrove through a shanty-town housing more than 1 millionhuman beings, most of whom earn less than a dollar a dayand are still forced to pay rent to the government in order tolive in appalling and unsanitary conditions.The TumainiOrphanage is locatedabout three hours (bycar) from Nairobi, thecapital of Kenya. Itwas several daysbefore Digesti or anyof his teammateswere allowed anycontact with the orphans themselves. Butonce they were allowed to meet and minglewith them, they were very impressed. Inaddition to doing chores, the children study13 hours a day, six days a week and reallyseem to enjoy learning. Their capacity foraffection was also astounding to Digesti,especially in light of their living conditionsand some of their past histories.In a letter to the supporters of theorganization, Digesti wrote, “It might behard to imagine how a group of strangerscan walk into an orphanage and give achild the kind of love that takes years tocreate in a traditional setting – but trustme, we did it and we have you to thank……Within minutes of meeting [them], theywere holding your hand, or wanting piggyback rides, or asking that you run with
continued on page 16
December 2010
Nevada Lawyer 15
Tournament and then Western Kentucky Universitywhere he played for the Hilltoppers.The steady climb from racket stringer and number13 on a squad of 12 taught Aurbach a lesson that hasstayed with him his entire legal career. Says Aurbach:“It takes a long time and a lot of practice to become agood tennis player and the same is true of becominga good lawyer. It took me years to become a good trialthem, study, play soccer, sing, or just talk.” Digestiwrites. “I met HIV-positive children, a girl whowas raped by her uncle for nine years, a boy whosemother threw him out as a young child … and a goodhandful of kids whose parents just could not affordto raise them and reluctantly turned them over tothe orphanage. And you know what, despite it all, you wouldn’t know they had terrible pasts unless youasked them. They wear their hearts, and not theirpasts, on their sleeve.”Digesti and his companions gave thousands indonation money to the school in order to assist themin purchasing chickens for the orphanage. (The schoolhad already built a coop for the birds). This donationwill provide meat and eggs to children – whose dietgenerally consists only of a porridge of cabbage andgrains – for a long time to come.Digesti acknowledges that the support of manyhelped him and his teammates in their endeavor; hespecifically thanks Nevada attorneys Don Coppa andThomas Belaustegui.
For Phil Aurbach, a restless night before a bigday at court is nothing new. When he is decidinghow to presenthis argument, Aurbach knowsthat a well-thought outstrategy canoften makea differencebetween a winand a loss.But it’s not just going tocourt that gets Aurbach’sadrenalineflowing; he’salso made a lifelong hobby of competitive amateur tennis. A native of Las Vegas, Phil tried out forthe Clark High School tennis team when hewas a freshman. After tryouts, Phil was toldthe 13-player squad was being cut to 12,and he was number 13. Never one to giveup, Phil began washing tennis courts andstringing rackets to pay for tennis lessonsand, by his senior year in high school, he wasranked #2 in doubles in Nevada, earning hima scholarship at Mesa Community College,a berth in the Junior College National
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16 Nevada Lawyer
December 2010
continued from page 15
lawyer.” It’s this message of the power of perseverancethat Aurbach hopes to pass on to local youths throughhis involvement with the Marty Hennessy JuniorTennis Foundation, which provides assistance andmentoring to young, economically disadvantaged tennisplayers in Las Vegas. “The character skills that make a young person a good tennis player will invariably leadto success in other areas of life,” says Aurbach.In recent years, Aurbach was inspired by a clientwho was ranked number one in the world in the 70and over age bracket. Since then, Phil has playedcompetitively in the 55 and older bracket, raisinghis ranking to as high as number 40 in the UnitedStates in 2009. “Tennis is a great sport for me,” says Aurbach. “Because highly competitive leagues existfor amateurs well into adulthood; many sports don’toffer that level of competition past college.” Thebiggest challenge, says Aurbach, is getting his wifeenthused about their new travel destinations.“Before I began playing national tournaments, wewould take exotic trips to England, Paris or Sweden.Our last trip was a week away to play the NationalIndoor championships in Boise, Idaho. Trying to makethat sound exotic was a real challenge.”
Day Williamsand his family livedin Guatemala fromJuly 29 to August8, 2010. The FirstUnited MethodistChurch in CarsonCity sponsored 25laypeople on anoutreach program toa tiny town in thisCentral Americancountry. Williams,his wife Robin,16-year-old sonNathanael, 15-year-old daughter Abbyand his 84-year-oldmother Maurine,along with CarsonCity attorney, Brian Hutchins, traveled withthe group to La Union: a town not even on themap. The village was so small that the church’steenagers played soccer on the only street intown. After spending two-and-a-half hours ina colorfully painted school bus, the churchgroup arrived in the settlement. They foundabout 120 to 140 families living in the village. An advance team met with the town leaders to learnhow the members could best contribute to improvingthe community. The goal for the trip was two-fold;the parishioners addressed a sanitation issue and aconstruction problem.The group was also accompanied by a medical teamfrom several Carson City churches. In 2009, themedical team had treated a number of villagers forintestinal problems. After meeting with the townleaders, the health care professionals decided that thegreatest need was for water filters.Working with a group called Miracles in Action;the church members provided 150 water filters tothe community. They gave daily presentations aboutpersonal hygiene and demonstrated how to assembleand use the water filters.Meanwhile, other members spent their timereroofing the school. Up until then, the school had tobe closed during the frequent rainstorms because of aleaky roof. Although many of the Methodists did not speakSpanish, they communicated with smiles and gestures.Williams took many photos, and when the kids sawhim, they would call out, “Photo! Photo!”Williams and his family returned home excitedabout their experience in Guatemala. 

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