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Professionalism Committee


The Professionalism Committee is a joint committee of the WCBA and the Tenth Judicial District that promotes professionalism by and among members of the local bar in the broadest sense, including the members’ obligation to the system of justice, their clients, themselves, their colleagues, and their community. The Committee’s efforts are guided by the Professionalism Creed,[link] which it developed, sponsored and adopted. The Committee continues to actively promote professionalism through a number of different programs:

Mentorship: For the past several years, the Committee has partnered with Campbell Law School in Raleigh to develop and implement the Connections Mentorship Program that would maintain and promote professionalism within the bar. Connections is a joint effort between the Committee and Campbell to combine resources and efforts in operating an effective mentorship program for both Campbell third-year law students and newly licensed attorneys of the Tenth Judicial District Bar and the WCBA. After deliberate efforts and extensive preparations to design a successful mentorship program, Connections launched in 2013 and was fully implemented in 2014.

Publications: For many years, the Committee has consistently published professionalism articles in the WCBA's bi-monthly newsletter, "The Bar Flyer." [link] In 2007, The Committee compiled and published a book of Wake County lawyers’ observations on professionalism, titled "Practicing Law: Wake County Lawyers’ Observations on Professionalism." This book is provided to each new member who participates in the WCBA-sponsored swearing-in ceremonies twice a year. Recently, the Committee has expanded and modernized its publications to include regular blog posts on professionalism topics [link] and a growing social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

PSI: The Professionalism Committee, in cooperation with the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, implemented the Professionalism Support Initiative, a pilot project for peer counseling of lawyers and judges. It continues to operate in Wake County and has been implemented by the Commission statewide, using Wake County as the model.

Programs: For many years, the Committee has organized and run an annual Roundtable Discussion focusing on ethics and professionalism issues. In 2013, the Committee began offering a second program focusing on professionalism issues. These professionalism programs provide free CLE to WCBA members at the October monthly luncheon and at one of the monthly breakfast discussions.
Spotlights: The Committee created and administers the Spotlights on Professionalism Program. Spotlights provides local bar members a chance to proactively nominate and recognize their colleagues who have done specific acts or engaged in sustained efforts to promote professionalism.  Nominations can be submitted using the form below.

ABA Gambrell Award: The Committee’s past efforts resulted in the WCBA being awarded the ABA’s prestigious Gambrell Award for Professionalism in 2007. The Committee plans to submit another nomination for the Gambrell award in 2015, based on its joint efforts with Campbell Law School in the Connections Mentorship Program. The Committee believes Connections can be a model for other local bars to use in partnering with law schools to develop voluntary mentorship programs for both law students and newly admitted attorneys.

The WCBA has a separate standing committee that administers the Branch Professionalism Award. The award was named after former Chief Justice Joseph A. Branch, and generally is considered to be the highest honor and award bestowed on a member of the local bar.

The Professionalism Committee created and administers the Spotlights Program to provide members of the bar the chance to proactively nominate and recognize their colleagues who have done specific acts or engaged in sustained efforts to promote the positive perception of professionalism among lawyers and the greater public.  Nominations can be submitted by members of the bar in the form below and are reviewed by a subcommittee of the Professionalism Committee.

  

 

 

Spotlights: Illuminating Acts of Professionalism
Nomination Form

To recognize specific acts and efforts advancing professionalism within the Wake County and Tenth Judicial District Bars and to promote the positive perception of professionalism among lawyers and the greater public.  Generally, it includes conduct that notably advances professionalism, as defined in our local Creed of Professionalism, local custom, and our state's legal and ethical rules.  Such conduct by a member of our Bar can range from a single isolated act to lengthy efforts and endeavors.

The following is an illustrative, non-exclusive list of some general categories on which we wish to shine a spotlight:

·         An unwavering commitment to integrity, fairness and civility never overridden by financial considerations
·         a dedication to excellence in serving a client or clients;
·         a respect for the rule of law, the court and other lawyers;
·         a commitment to seek a just result in matters undertaken for clients;
·         practicing law motivated by service rather than inspired solely by profit or financial considerations;
·         representing clients zealously and as a vigorous advocate but also honorably and with respect and consideration of others, such as:
               *dealing with opposing parties and counsel honestly, fairly and courteously;
               *seeking to resolve disputes between clients and lawyers in a dignified manner;
               *pursuing the most efficient and least costly solutions to problems and avoiding unnecessary delay;
·         a willingness to share learning and experience and act informally or formally as a mentor to less experienced lawyers;
·         selflessly assisting fellow lawyers in times of need;
·         Significant efforts to improve the judicial process, such as encouraging respect for the law and avoiding the abuse or misuse of the law, its procedures, participants and process;
·         considerable efforts to make the legal system more accessible, responsive, and effective for all;
·         contributing significant time and resources to the organized bar, public service, community and civic activities;

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