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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    April 01, 2018

    Final Thought
    My Favorite Time of the Year

    Sharing your life experiences with children can give them the hope and inspiration they need to survive challenging circumstances.

    Roy B. Evans

    Black History Month is one of my favorite times of the year. I look forward to getting back in the classrooms of eager students interested in learning and curious about the wonders of the world. Having a background in education (B.A. English K-12 and M.S. Adult Ed.) and as a lawyer (38 years), I especially look forward to speaking and interacting with primary school students because of their unadulterated inquisitive natures and candor. Most often they have never met a black attorney before and are honest when asking questions about what lawyers do and what it takes to become one.

    Roy B. EvansRoy B. Evans, U.W. 1979, maintains a solo practice in Milwaukee, focusing in business development and contract law.

    Being a role model in that regard is rewarding and gives me hope that something I might say will give them courage, direction, or inspiration with regard to attaining success in school as well as in life. The majority of students I encounter in Milwaukee, one of the most difficult cities in the country for blacks, come from very difficult home situations where the stress of poverty and pressures of life are extraordinary. To attain any type of success in school, many must first be survivors in life. Single-parent families, low expectations, and the enduring stress placed on developing young minds can at times be overwhelming. The sheer magnitude that everyday poverty can place on them makes for a daunting task when it comes to learning.

    When I speak to a class I normally ask the teacher whether there is anything I can emphasize in my presentation that would help the teacher in carrying out the lesson plans. In one class of fifth graders, the teacher said, “Out of the 16 students in my class, nine have either one or both parents who are incarcerated.” (Wisconsin is a national leader in racial incarceration disparity.) How do you give them hope with the burden of this fact of life being the basis of their already strained support system?

    For me these are often normal challenges. These types of realities should challenge everyone’s abilities to find ways of encouragement as an investment in our future as well as theirs even in the midst of the great potential for diminishing returns. No innocent child should be punished before puberty for the sins of their fathers and, all too often, their mothers. These are the unique realities and challenges that we face and, as lawyers, we must be stewards of change in the laws and policies that punish not only the guilty, but also, too frequently, the innocent.

    No innocent child should be punished before puberty for the sins of their fathers and, all too often, their mothers.

    I enjoy telling the students about my own similar upbringing and my challenging journey through Milwaukee’s public schools and letting them know what it takes to make their own aspirations come true. Young children are very impressionable, and once you get their attention their desire to learn is evident. You can’t lecture them about quantum physics, but simple critical-thinking skills, like “look before you leap,” are appropriate. And don’t get caught up in things you may regret; stories such as the Monkey Trap can challenge their imaginations beyond belief.

    However, it saddens me to know that their enthusiasm may not last in the face of the reality of their situations. But my grandmother always taught me that “to whom much is given, much is required.” And that’s why Black History Month is my favorite time of year.

    Meet Our Contributors

    What’s the best part of being a lawyer?

    In retrospect, being a lawyer in private practice for the past 39 years has given me the honor and privilege to be able to serve my community and have some impact on positive change in that capacity. Despite the ups and downs, hard times and good times, overall it has been a rewarding experience.

    If there is anything that I can impart to enthusiastic, idealistic, energetic young lawyers just starting out, it would be this: be prepared for and learn how to manage the stress that accompanies being a lawyer. Balancing the demands and responsibilities of practicing law creates enormous demands on the mind and body with expectations that often cause stress-related problems. Keeping a good physical, mental, and spiritual balance is important.

    You can even make stress work for you if you manage it properly. I often tell students that since I left law school I have not encountered a single hypothetical. The stress of a college exam is much different than the stress of the real-life trauma of actually practicing law. Being knowledgeable, prepared, and having confidence can help you to turn stress into success.

    Although practicing law is the best part of being a lawyer, preparing and encouraging the next generation of lawyers is just as important. Sharing observations and real-life experiences acquired over my career as a lawyer seems to have more value now looking forward than looking back. That’s the best part of being a lawyer for me.

    I recently was asked whether, after all these years, I still believe in the U.S. justice system. After studying other legal systems I do still have a firm belief that ours is the best legal system in the world.

    However, even though the U.S. legal system may be the best, it is an imperfect system with many flaws and weaknesses. Our system of justice crafted and developed over the growth of our country has been affected by the imperfections of human intentions and decision making. Good intentions and sound social policy have always been the catalyst for fairness and justice, but the implicit and explicit nature of human bias by those who maintain and manage our justice system has created a disparity that weakens the ideals and fairness in our current system. The power of politics and the influences of partisanship and cultural animus have diminished the ideals of a color-blind society with justice for all.

    Nevertheless, the struggle to create a more perfect union based on equality, fairness, and justice should still require our best efforts and the best practices that our free society will allow us. That is the challenge for the making of a better justice system. Notwithstanding its imperfections, continued belief in the U.S. justice system is of paramount importance if we are to have a belief in the future of our country. After all these years, the pace has been slow and sometimes contrary to its original intent, but we must all believe in our justice system because, as a country, it is all we have.

    Roy B. Evans, Roy Bradford Evans Attorney at Law, Milwaukee.

    Become a contributor! Are you working on an interesting case? Have a practice tip to share? There are several ways to contribute to Wisconsin Lawyer. To discuss a topic idea, contact Managing Editor Karlé Lester at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6127, or email Check out our writing and submission guidelines.

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