To Be or Not to Be
Some will say that a person can be judged by the company he keeps. Whether fair or not, hanging out with people of questionable ethics and professionalism can reflect badly on you. This can be troubling for lawyers as a group when the public perception of lawyers is not all that good. To separate yourself, the choice is easy, do the right thing each day, one day at a time.
Ethics is a Choice
For me, the better judge of a person is what they say and what they do. Ethics at the end is all about choice. Will you do the right thing? By doing right, ethically and professionally, you can rise above others and at the same time, raise the public perception of all lawyers. We are lawyers all the time, not just in the courtroom. The practice of law is a privilege, and as such the Florida Supreme Court holds us to a higher standard than other citizens. That means our interactions in our private lives matter just as much as those in the law office. We can and must do better. Let us not be the problem, but let's be the solution, one lawyer at a time. The world is full of problems, legal and otherwise. When it comes to legal issues, we have a duty to solve problems, not create more problems or delay resolutions just because we can.
Ethics and Professionalism CLE Presentations
As an ethics trial counsel, I deal with these issues on a daily basis. Most of the time that means I am dealing with the results of a lack of ethics or professionalism. Recently I have made it a point to be proactive when it comes to ethics and professionalism. I have gotten out of the office and started to make presentations to both small and big groups to raise awareness how a lack of ethics or professionalism affects us all. Last month I spoke during an advanced mediation training session for Effective Mediation Consultants as to the ethical dilemmas facing lawyers and mediators during mediation. Likewise, last week I spoke to law students at the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program for the University of Miami School of Law. In both cases, the feedback was amazing and all seemed to learn something new and enjoyed the presentations.
If you too believe in this mission, please let me know. I have one Florida Bar approved CLE program for ethics with several others in development. I routinely provide these ethics CLE sessions free of charge as a public service, and I would be happy to travel to your location for a "lunch and learn".
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an ethics trial counsel with The Florida Bar as well as an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. If you would like to schedule a "lunch and learn" ethics CLE presentation for your law firm or group, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.