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The courage of lions and turtles

One of our tasks as leaders of other lawyers is to cultivate in them both kinds of courage, that of the lions and that of the turtles

I was recently at Lincoln Center listening to the Philharmonic perform Elmer Bernstein's score to the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This is a beautiful piece of music which adds so much to one of my favorite movies, a cinematic masterpiece that has probably caused more people to want to become lawyers than any other movie ever made. Almost everyone has seen it at least once; many people, like me, have seen it numerous times.

While it is a rich movie (based, of course, on the classic novel by Harper Lee) with many themes, two major elements of the movie are courage and its opposite—cowardice. Atticus Finch shows courage in defending his unpopular client, even to the point of standing guard all night on the steps of the local jail to prevent a lynching. Tom Robinson demonstrates quiet and dignified courage in telling the truth at his trial even though he probably knew he was sealing his own fate in telling a truth the jury was not willing to hear. Boo Radley evinced courage in doing what had to be done to protect the lives of the children.

PD Villarreal

PD Villarreal is senior vice preisdent of global litigation at GlaxoSmithKline.

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