Legally Brief With Kevin Patrick Automobile accidents | Daycare injuries | wrongful death
Serving on the state bar of georgia's commitee on professionalism
Why Professionalism Is a Vital Trait for Every Lawyer
As many of you already know, I admire Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch, the fictional lawyer in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Finch is portrayed as the consummate professional, and I truly admire his character. I was deeply honored to have been appointed by the President of the State Bar of Georgia to the Committee on Professionalism, where I’m now in my second term. I’ve always been involved in the bar because I feel that participating in the volunteer work, committee meetings, and mentorship opportunities offers a new level to the practice of law, but I’ve found myself becoming more and more active in this particular committee. I think it really embodies Finch’s goal of making sure our profession is seen in a noble and honorable light. Lawyers have a reputation for being adversarial in nature. But, even though we might have a tendency to argue, it’s important we recognize one another across the courtroom not just as adversaries but as human beings with our own unique lives, goals, and dreams. That’s the only way we can work toward the common good of our profession, and most importantly our clients, and I’m happy to do whatever I can to further the mission. In that spirit, I’ve really embraced my work with the Committee on Professionalism. Though it might sound like a group that’s all about enforcing crisp suits and matching ties, we actually focus on conduct. When school is in session, we visit classrooms to teach first-year law students about professionalism and how to handle themselves in upright, dignified, meaningful ways. We put together hypothetical scenarios and ask them questions like, “What would you do in this situation?” and “How would you handle this problem if it came up?” When I was a young lawyer, I went through this same sort of training and was fortunate to have wonderful mentors. One of them was Chief Judge John H. Bailey, Jr., whom I clerked for right
out of law school. I looked up to him as a judge, a lawyer, and a person, and I learned valuable lessons from his advice and watching how he handled things in the courtroom. He is one of the finest men I know. I’m particularly excited about a few new initiatives the committee is working on: First, we’re trying to put together an online database, so lawyers have access to tips, advice, and hypothetical scenarios that can help with their work. That way, they won’t always need to go to a presentation or ask a friend to get answers. I’ve been appointed to co-chair and will be heading up that effort, which is still in its early stages. Second, we want to encourage lawyers across the profession to collaborate more. Even just having lunch or coffee together, which is where we plan to start, can help foster a sense of community and commonality. Ideally, we want to encourage lawyers across Georgia to form those relationships now, so they feel comfortable picking up the phone to discuss meaningful solutions to cases. Ultimately, I think professionalism comes down to the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you can look yourself in the eye every day in the mirror and feel proud of what you do, odds are you’re on the right track.
This publication is for informational purposes only, and no legal advice is intended.
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