Here is the complete text of the Preface to Jerry Lawson’s upcoming book Knowledge Management for Lawyers: Building a Culture of Success, scheduled for publication in April 2022. It was originally published at LLRX.com and reprinted at The Impact Lawyers.
I first learned about the joy of efficiency from my high school Geometry teacher, Miss Freida Riley. On submitting a proof for her approval, her usual reaction would be: “It’s OK. Can you do better?” What she meant was make it simpler, more streamlined, more efficient.
If more work resulted in better insights, I might hear words like: “That’s good, Jerry. That’s what we are looking for.” Miss Riley prized efficiency, what mathematicians call “elegance.” She showed me what poet Edna St. Vincent had in mind when she wrote “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.”
Valedictorian of her high school and college classes, Frieda Riley could have been a star teacher at virtually any school in the country. She chose to teach in McDowell County, the heart of the West Virginia coal fields. It was the poorest county in the poorest state in the nation. The poverty in McDowell County is so deep and so persistent that the New York Times used the county in an article portraying it as the poster child of poverty in the United States.
Miss Riley blessed her students with better ways of thinking and approaching problems. She opened the door to new worlds, new possibilities.
Frieda Riley died of Hodgkin’s Disease at age 31. Today she is honored in the National Museum of Education, but her most important legacy is the countless students she inspired–and equipped–to meet challenges.
Continue Reading KM Book Preface: Freida Riley