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The Legacy of Professionalism

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 14, 2018

by: Ryan Shuirman, Yates McLamb & Weyher LLP

There’s a saying about standing on the shoulders of giants, and we are lucky to practice in a community where there are so many giants providing us sure footing.  The collegiality we enjoy here truly is not enjoyed in a lot of other places, and we clearly have our predecessors to thank. 

If you’re as fortunate as me and have had a chance to practice with some local lawyers to whom the utmost in professional conduct comes naturally, then you’ve gotten a firsthand look at the ideals of our profession in practice.  We can all aspire to those ideals, but we’re even more fortunate when our partners’ actions send a clear signal of what is expected in our special bar.

Recently, a younger associate in our firm attended a deposition with one our firm’s senior partners.  When he returned to the office, he mentioned that so much of the professional style of the senior partner was what he had seen and read in transcripts from depositions taken by others in our office.  He found it remarkable that despite such disparate personalities and practice specialties within even our firm, the professional way of handling witnesses and opposing counsel in depositions was so consistent among our lawyers.

The explanation for this consistency is not that the lawyers in our firm have individually studied the Rules of Professional Conduct and independently reached some standard for how issues will be handled.  Rather, the obvious explanation is that those who came before us knew how to conduct themselves professionally and they have mostly unintentionally, but sometimes intentionally, served as examples for how things simply “should be done the right way.”

The truth is we’re not unique in how we approach our work professionally.  Truer still – we are not original in our professional approach.  Each of us is a product of our observations of other lawyers who have come before us, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have shown us what to do.  Don’t miss opportunities to be the example others can emulate, especially during summer clerk season and as new members of the bar are sworn in this fall.  Younger lawyers and students are looking.  And if we want the next generations of Wake County lawyers to have as fulfilling a practice as we are lucky to enjoy, then we can only do what those who have come before us have done so naturally for so long.  Few things in the practice of law can be more satisfying than knowing younger lawyers take from you a bit of the professional wisdom you learned from those before you.

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