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A blog by members of the Wake County Bar Association/Tenth Judicial District Bar's Professionalism Committee members.

 

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Top tags: ethics  Exit Planning  Mediation  admissibility  Advocacy  appeal  Competence  corporate appearance  Law  Lawyer  mediator  Professionalism  professionalism stress depression anxiety mental h 

Let Hate, Let Hate Be Your Enemy

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Wednesday, August 17, 2016

By Brian Beverly, President, Wake County Bar Association and Tenth Judicial District Bar

 

Are you holding a grudge?  Does the mere sight of the person who offended you make your blood boil?  If so, do your best to let it go.  A quote that I often reflect on reads: “Resentment is like drinking a poison and expecting it to kill your enemies.”  The quote is most frequently attributed to Nelson Mandela, but he likely wasn’t the original author.  The phrase has enjoyed some variations over the years and has substituted “unforgiveness” (not a real word) or “holding on to anger” in place of the term ‘resentment’ in different publications.  Despite the difference in verbiage, the lesson is constant.  We only do ourselves harm when we harbor prolonged ill will in our heart for those whom we feel have crossed us.  So the next time that idiot cuts you off in traffic, take a deep breath and carry on.  When you see the opposing counsel who tried to play you for a fool some years back, smile and greet him/her as appropriate to serve notice that the hatchet is buried.  Hopefully none of us has to cultivate the level of forgiveness that Mandela mustered, but we can all afford to release some measure of resentment.  As one of my favorite Reggae bands Third World put it in their smash hit “Now That We’ve Found Love,”

 

You’ve got to forgive and forget

Let hate, let hate, be your enemy.

 

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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Tips for Training New Lawyers on Confidentiality

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Monday, August 8, 2016

By Rebecca F. Hölljes

 

            Perhaps one of our most important responsibilities as attorneys is to maintain client confidences.  Despite its importance, the breadth and scope of an attorney’s duty to maintain client confidentiality can be less obvious to newer members of the Bar.  This post focuses on the importance of newer attorneys becoming familiar with client-confidentiality principles (even when those principles might otherwise seem self-evident) and ways to avoid unintentional disclosures.

 

Rule 1.6 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct addresses the confidentiality of information.  In essence, the rule, which includes many helpful comments and notes, proscribes revelation of information acquired during the professional relationship unless the client gives informed consent or impliedly authorizes the disclosure as part of the representation.  Although newer lawyers will have studied the rules of professional conduct more recently than most, applying those rules to everyday situations can be quite a different experience from answering questions on the MPRE exam.

 

For example, the rule’s duty of confidentiality can be violated by discussing client confidences among persons not obligated to maintain confidentiality, revealing client confidences even without identifying clients by name (but instead with information identifiable to a client), or by consulting with a lawyer who may represent the adverse party.  Even documents filed in court that become a matter of public record may not be disclosable if the information was gained during the course of representation and is not generally known. 

 

Ultimately, many of these potential problems will be avoided with experience, but training, mentoring, and leading by example in the interim are essential.  Advising newer attorneys not to discuss client cases or matters in office lobbies and elevators, to avoid leaving files unattended in public spaces (including courtrooms, conference rooms, and offices to which non-firm members have access), and to err on the side of speaking in hypotheticals rather than specifics can help avoid disclosures and develop habits that maintain confidentiality and privilege.  Because sanctions for violation of the rules and case law associated with confidentiality can have serious consequences to the practitioner, newer bar members should review the Rules of Professional Conduct and consider consulting with more experienced attorneys and lawyer helplines for additional guidance.

 

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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The Stressed Out Lawyer

Posted By Whitney D. von Haam, Wake County Bar Association, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

By Deanna Brocker, The Brocker Law Firm, P.A.

I am a natural born fretter. I tend to envision all the ways things could go wrong, and I tell myself it’s so I’ll be prepared when they (inevitably) do.  My sister-in-law often tells me to quit planning the wreckage of my future.  I know I need to find my zen zone, and try to deal with the stress that I inflict upon myself.  But if you’re like me, you know it is easier said than done.

The need to manage stress or the failure to do so seems to be the hallmark of the legal profession.  Apparently, the legal professional is number one — number one, that is, for the incidents of depression, out of 105 different professions. (1)   A fair number of the lawyers that I counsel suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse.  I have wondered whether there is something about the legal profession that causes mental health issues, or is the type of person who is drawn to the law likely to be someone with characteristics that put them at risk?

According to Psychologist Martin Seligman, those traits which epitomize a good lawyer, may also translate into an unhappy person.  “[T]he legal profession is unique in that it is the only profession where pessimists–those who see problems as the norm and not the exception–out-perform optimists….[T]he legal profession calls for caution, skepticism, and anticipation that things will go wrong.”  (2) Combine that with the fact that lawyers as a group are particularly adverse to seeking help for mental health issues, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Given my personality, I have chosen the perfect profession for myself, so I should count that in the win column.  At the same time, if I allow the stress and worry to take too large a role in my life, I am at risk.  I attended a recent Lawyers Mutual presentation that tackled issues of stress and anxiety and how to cope with these factors in your life.  One takeaway from the program is that you need to schedule time to decompress.  Really.  Plan time away from your work, just like you would an appointment.  It doesn’t have to be as significant as a vacation.  Just think about how you can escape for a bit and find your happy place.  It could be getting outside, exercising, reading a good book, meditation, going to a concert, a change of scenery, spending time with family (or away from family), or anything else that makes you smile.

Schedule that time for yourself each and every day.  When you take better care of your mental health, you are in a better frame of mind – to make decisions, to get work done efficiently and to interact effectively.  In short, you’ll be a better lawyer.

Tags:  professionalism stress depression anxiety mental h 

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Think Twice Before Using a Liquidated Damages Clause

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Friday, July 1, 2016

By Brooke Ottesen, The Brocker Law Firm, P.A.

 

NC courts generally give broad deference to parties entering into a contractual relationship to negotiate the terms of the contract, including legal remedies against each other.  One type of remedy which may be included is a liquidated damages clause.  Such a provision provides a pre-determined amount that a breaching party will owe the non-breaching party in the event of a breach.  This contractual provision has both positives and negatives.  On the one hand, it will typically be cheaper to negotiate the liquidated damages clause on the front end, as opposed to resolving the issues of damages in subsequent litigation. On the other hand, issues of the provision’s enforceability can, of course, be litigated and get very expensive.  Further, agreed upon damages at the time the contract was executed may prove insufficient at the time of a breach.

Can an attorney include a liquidated damages clause in a fee agreement with a client?  There does not appear to be any North Carolina ethics opinions or rules that expressly prohibit it.  Using such a provision, however, seems to force commercialism into the arrangement and ignores the heart of the attorney-client relationship — a relationship based on duty and trust.  Including such a provision also seems to be at odds with the fact that a client may terminate the services of an attorney at any time and for any reason.   Moreover, from a practical standpoint, clients may not appreciate these clauses, and wonder why an attorney would include the provision in a fee agreement. This provision may send the wrong message and a client may decide to go elsewhere.

Listed below are a few other considerations (but certainly not all) that weigh against using these provisions:

  • A liquidated damages clause in a fee agreement could result in a clearly excessive attorney fee.

  • Contract provisions, to be ethical, must also be lawful.  I have not found any NC law which would indicate that such a provision in a NC fee agreement would be unlawful or against public policy.  However, this is a relatively new area. In service or consumer contracts, as opposed to employment contracts, there is not much law on whether a service provider may include this kind of language in their contracts.  You will need to keep up-to-date on this emerging area.

  • Liquidated damages provisions will generally be construed against the attorney, to the extent there is any question about interpretation.  The attorney is in a position of trust, and the attorney and the client do not have equal bargaining power. The courts will likely find the client was not given meaningful opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract.

  • It is also important that you are certain that the client is specifically aware of this contractual provision, so that you would be able to state that the client knowingly forfeited this right if ever challenged on the provision.

  • Finally, a liquidated damages clause cannot amount to a penalty, and it is hard to see how a liquidated damages clause in your ordinary attorney fee contract could be anything else. The NC Supreme Court notes, “It is well established that a sum specified in the contract as the measure of recovery in the event of a breach will be enforced if the court determines it to be a provision for liquidated damages, but not enforced if it is determined to be a penalty.”  Brenner v. Little Red School House, Ltd., 302 N.C. 207,214, 274 S.E.2d 206, 211 (1981).

All this is to say, it is better not to treat your client fee contract like an ordinary commercial transaction.  While you can adequately protect yourself in the event of a breach by having a written fee contract, keep in mind that your fee contract is the first step in setting the tone of your relationship with your client.   It shouldn’t start out by being an adversarial one.

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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The Best Mentoring

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

By Megan West Sherron, Campbell University School of Law 

At various points in our careers, each of us can remember a law mentor who has stood out to us.  That person likely took us under their wing, using each opportunity to teach something and make us better.    My first legal mentor was my boss, Hoyt Tessener.  He took me everywhere he went, allowed me to learn from him and also taught me how to practice law with his guidance.  He promoted me to other attorneys and judges and made me feel like I was a capable and competent attorney. 

There are many characteristic of good mentors.  In fact, Dean Michael Schwartz of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has started a project entitled “What the Best Law Mentors Do” to study just that.  (http://www.bestlawmentors.com/) Recently, at the 2016 National Legal Mentoring Consortium Conference, he discussed along with the other conference attendees what makes a good mentor.  The same themes were discussed over and over:  being a good listener, acting deliberately and consistently with opportunities to teach, championing a protégé’s success, leading by example, providing time and being trustworthy.   

The Campbell Law Connections Mentorship program has given me an opportunity to see the characteristics of great mentorship at work.  As one protégé described it, “Having a mentor has helped me in so many ways.  Watching [her] actions and the way she treats everyone with respect and dignity through a very difficult time has been one of the greatest lessons I will take with me as I begin my practice.”  Students and new attorneys have been given wonderful opportunities to learn from some of the most experienced and thoughtful mentors in Wake County.

We are looking for qualified mentors to help the next generation of new attorneys and law students.  We would also love to have new attorneys join and learn from some of the very best mentors.  If you are interested in participating in Connections, please consider joining the program for the upcoming 2016-17 year.  For additional information on the program and requirements, please contact Megan West Sherron at sherron@campbell.edu.

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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Liability Limits: Good Legal Advice, Bad Professional Practice

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Friday, June 3, 2016

By Douglas J. Brocker, Brocker Law Firm and Professionalism Committee Chair

In my day job, I am a provider of professional services; in my other roles, I also frequently am a consumer of professional services.  As a consumer, I have noticed a disturbing trend in agreements for professional services.  More and more professionals are inserting standard clauses in their agreements with consumers prospectively limiting their liability for negligence and other mistakes or misconduct. 

These limitations take various forms, but recently the trend seems to be to limit the professional’s potential liability to no more than the total fee they were paid by the consumer.  Assuming it is consistent with one’s professional obligations and is enforceable, these clauses allow a professional to commit negligence or other misconduct, potentially cause substantial damage to the consumer, but yet have no liability or financial obligation, other than to return the fee paid. That’s hardly a formula for fostering careful, diligent, and skillful professionals.   

Certain professions restrict liability limitation clauses but permit them under certain circumstances. For example, lawyers are prohibited from entering into any agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice unless the client is independently represented in making the agreement, pursuant to NC Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(h)(1).  Such a clause or agreement is considered a conflict of interest with the client.  This restriction effectively prevents the use of such clauses in form or standard contracts and agreements with lawyers but permits it when warranted and with appropriate safeguards.  Although there certainly are circumstances where such liability limitation clauses are appropriate, they should not be a routine contract clause in my view.  Restrictions, such as the one contained in the NC Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, prevent their widespread use in form agreements. 

Unfortunately, the regulations and ethics rules for most professionals in North Carolina do not prohibit or even restrict such liability limitation clauses.  Most professionals essentially are allowed to eliminate all such liability through a contractual provision without restrictions.  Hopefully, more profession regulators will recognize that placing at least some restrictions on these types of clauses will help limit their use to circumstances where justified and with appropriate protections, not merely as part of a form contract that most consumers never bother to read before signing away important legal rights.  

 As a lawyer, I realize that most of these clauses are inserted upon the advice of attorneys.  Although it may be good technical, legal advice to a professional, it is misguided, bad business, and unprofessional in my opinion.   As a consumer of services, the message that such clauses send me is that the professional is not confident in his or her abilities and doesn't want to be responsible for any mistakes or misconduct.  I have consistently refused to sign agreements or contracts containing these liability limitation provisions and instead seek out professionals who do not use them or are willing to delete them. 

I encourage you as a consumer to do the same thing and, as a professional, not to include such provisions in your agreements from a business and professionalism standpoint.  I want to deal with professionals who are competent, confident, careful, and diligent, but also willing to accept responsibility for any mistakes that may be made.  I believe that is what most consumers want in dealing with professionals.  Liability limitation clauses send the wrong message and create misguided incentives.   Sometimes good technical legal advice is bad for business and for your profession and professionalism. Any good professional should stand behind his or her work, not hide behind a liability limitation clause.    

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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I Need an Intern or Can I get Someone to Mentor Me?

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

by Leslee Ruth Sharp, Sharp Law Offices, Raleigh, NC

 

            Did you see the movie The Intern? Young entrepreneur Jules (Anne Hathaway),  who has built her web-based clothing company, is convinced by one of her employees to hire a senior (yes, old guy) intern; enter Ben (Robert DeNiro), retired phone book executive (yes they actually used to print phone numbers in a big paper book), who is widowed and looking for something to fill his days. 

 

            Now Jules has it all together with her on-line clothing sales and her business is growing gang busters.  Ben knows not of on-line clothing sales, or really of on-line anything, but he knows the business of running a business and of managing people.

 

            As interns do, Ben watches, observes, learns about his boss. But something different happens, this intern begins to share his business acumen with his boss.  Rather than the intern being mentored by the boss in the specifics of on-line clothing sales, Jules becomes the mentee and begins to learn the business of running her business.  The intern imparts knowledge of how to manage and grow a company, how to manage people.  Along the way, Jules shares some 20th Century advice about work-life balance that didn't exist when Ben was climbing his way to the top of the executive ladder. 

 

            As in the best of any relationship, each party has something to give and each takes something away.  There really isn't much difference in this intern and the typical mentee; the intern came into the relationship mainly at the invitation of the boss who felt the need to show the uninitiated the ropes, the mentee seeking to emulate, to some degree, the mentor and learn the tricks of the trade from the mentor.  But as shown in The Intern, sometimes the student becomes the teacher. 

 

            As a lawyer, each of us is surrounded daily by opportunities for learning.  Whether you are in a formal mentor-mentee relationship, an internship gone upside down, or sitting at lunch with a colleague who relates yesterday’s experience, take a moment to find the nugget of knowledge that helps you say "you learn something new every day."  It might not be the statute you need to save your client's case, it might be a software program that will helps get you out of the office earlier each day.

 

            Now, I'm off to find that senior Intern who's going to show me how to delegate all these tasks required to make this practice run so I can get back to the practice of law...

 

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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The Devil’s Advocate v. The Advocate’s Devil

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Friday, April 22, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

By: Howard A. Marsilio, La Mantia & Marsilio, PLLC

 

My last blog contribution in late 2015 focused on the basics and the attorney’s contemplated role as an advisor under the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”).  After receiving positive feedback from a number of my peers, it felt right to take it back to the basics again and discuss another fundamental role of the attorney - the advocate.  In my experience, non-attorneys most frequently envision the advocate as the main role of an attorney.  This is understandable having been inundated by television shows and movies with their favorite actors as hard-charging hired guns.  These actors are frequently seen objecting constantly, using excessive hand gestures and “you can’t handle the truth” style yelling, and employing it’s my client’s way or the highway tactics.  Of course, that makes for good entertainment, as I doubt many best-sellers will be written about the ___________________ (insert your own boring legal subject here) practitioner, but too much “Hollywood” in your practice of law may not always comport with the Rules or local court rules.

 

The Rules stand for the idea that as an attorney your conduct, both professionally and privately, should reflect positively on the legal profession.  See Comment 4 of Rule 0.1, Preamble (“a lawyer should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority”); and Comment 5 of Rule 0.1, Preamble (“A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials”).  Comment 2 of Rule 0.1, Preamble states “[a]s advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.”  For me, I like to call this role of advocate in Court the “fun” stuff, but I do not take on this role with an “anything goes” or “at all costs” attitude.  The role of advocate is not intended and should not include methodology or tactics which would make for good entertainment in the movies/shows/books to gain advantage, abuse the system, or simply make opposing counsel’s job more difficult for an improper purpose.  Merriam-Webster.com defines zealous as “feeling or showing strong and energetic support for a person, cause, etc.”, but it does not include the words aggressive, hostile, or disrespectful with regard to the treatment of others. 

 

Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1 through 4.4 further outline and more specifically address the boundaries of attorney conduct in prosecuting, defending, litigating or advocating in the name of their client’s interests, but Comment 13 of Rule 0.1, Preamble  may be the paragraph that best captures the spirit of balancing professionalism and advocacy in representing your clients.

 

“Although a matter is hotly contested by the parties, a lawyer should treat opposing counsel with courtesy and respect. The legal dispute of the client must never become the lawyer’s personal dispute with opposing counsel. A lawyer, moreover, should provide zealous but honorable representation without resorting to unfair or offensive tactics. The legal system provides a civilized mechanism for resolving disputes, but only if the lawyers themselves behave with dignity. A lawyer’s word to another lawyer should be the lawyer’s bond. As professional colleagues, lawyers should encourage and counsel new lawyers by providing advice and mentoring; foster civility among members of the bar by acceding to reasonable requests that do not prejudice the interests of the client; and counsel and assist peers who fail to fulfill their professional duties because of substance abuse, depression, or other personal difficulties”  (Emphasis Added).

 

Although the “fun” part of being an attorney may occasionally incorporate a little “show” for the client, a little bluff at the negotiation/mediation table, or a legal argument that may straddle that fine line between genius and insanity, I suspect many attorneys will agree that this profession is difficult and stressful enough without too much “Hollywood” or unnecessary conflict.  It appears the moral of the story is that as attorneys, we should strive to lift up each other, the profession, and non-attorney perception of lawyers, through professional behavior and respect, instead of beating each other down at every turn.  Perhaps it is most important to remember the “Golden Rule” along with the other rules we deal with day-to-day.

 

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole. 

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Driven to Distraction

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

By Carmon Bannon, NC State Bar, Professionalism Committee Vice-Chair 

I am sitting at my desk, in my office, trying to wrap my mind around a voluminous file.  It’s the kind of project where you have to make notes, and a timeline, and refer back and forth between documents just to piece together the complete picture.  My cell phone buzzes—text message—better check that to make sure it isn’t something important. Nope—OK, back to the file . . . It buzzes again—Oh no!  It’s one of those infernal group texts and others are responding.  I go into the phone settings, switch off the alerts for that message, and turn back to . . . My email alert chimes.  It’s one of the other lawyers in my office describing a fact pattern and asking the rest of us to weigh in on how to proceed.  Will have to get to that later.  On my second computer monitor, I see that a few messages have come in on my personal email—Might as well delete all those sale announcements and free-shipping offers now, before they pile up.  My phone rings.  It can go to voicemail, because I have GOT to focus on this file . . . The voicemail light on my office phone starts flashing just before my cell phone starts ringing—apparently my opposing counsel really wants to talk to me right now.  While my cell phone is ringing, my paralegal brings in today’s mail.  As we exchange pleasantries, my email chimes a few more times—my coworkers are replying-to-all about the earlier inquiry.  There is a movement afoot to gather in the conference room in 30 minutes to discuss.  As I scan the replies from my colleagues, I am half listening to the speaker-phone conversation going on in the adjacent office, and two other people chatting about their gardens in the hallway.  That reminds me—my office plants need watering.  Better do that now, before I forget.  Now, where was I? . . .  A calendar alert pops up and chirps, reminding me that my manuscript for an upcoming CLE is due tomorrow.  I add that to the “To-Do” list for later.  At this point, there are only 15 minutes left before the impromptu meeting.  By the time I get a train of thought going on my project, it will be time to go, so I might as well check the headlines, listen to those voicemails to see what opposing counsel wants, and revisit the group text from the neighbors to see what I’m supposed to bring to the potluck.  I guess studying that file will have to wait.

Being a lawyer is an information- and communication-driven profession.  Most of us have dozens (or hundreds!) of different projects in some stage of completion at all times.  So we need to be connected.  And we need to be able to switch gears.  But at some point, these two necessities can interfere with doing our best work.  In order to perform for our clients, we may need to create some single-tasking space in a multi-tasking world.

As it turns out, this idea has received quite a bit of attention from researchers recently, and the data suggests that we could all benefit from designating times when we will turn off the phone, disable the email alerts, and close the web browser.  Many of these findings are discussed in an 18 January 2015 article by neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin entitled “Why the Modern World is Bad for Your Brain.”  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/18/modern-world-bad-for-brain-daniel-j-levitin-organized-mind-information-overload.  In thinking about how the distractions of the modern workplace might undermine our performance as lawyers, I thought the following passage from Levitin’s article was particularly salient:

“[L]ots of multitasking requires decision-making: Do I answer this text message or ignore it? How do I respond to this? How do I file this email? Do I continue what I’m working on now or take a break? It turns out that decision-making is also very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones. One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important.”

Levitin explains that the constant barrage of information and distraction doesn’t just cost in terms of decision-making and productivity.  Multitasking also affects our mood and stress level by increasing the production of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, making it more difficult to handle the pressures of the job.  One day recently I thought “If I hear that email alert sound one more time this afternoon, I am going to run screaming from the building!”  Needless to say, in that agitated frame of mind, I was not doing my best work. For the sake of our clients, and our sanity, we should all give ourselves permission to cut off the data stream, silence the electronics, and do some old-fashioned thinking.

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole.

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Lawyers Taking Time out of Very Busy Schedules: Mentoring and Collegiality

Posted By Colleen Glatfelter, Thursday, March 17, 2016

by Elizabeth L. Oxley, Attorney

 

Taking time out of our very busy schedules to talk with law students, new attorneys--and each other—results in the mentoring and collegiality which form part of the bedrock of good law practice and professionalism within the Bar.  Thinking back on my legal career, a few special mentors come to mind.  All the mentors took time out of their very busy schedules to talk with me and encourage me—in other words, they were collegial.

As a law student, I did a summer internship in a prosecutor's office.  One of the prosecutors made a point of spending time with the "lowly" interns almost every morning to answer our questions and encourage us.  This meant the world to us.  Also while a law student, I served as a research assistant to two professors and edited their casebooks.  Both of the professors took the time to encourage me as a law student and future lawyer, giving me ideas about good options for my future career.  While a student intern with a federal judge, the law clerks and judge took time to talk with me about my work, and the judge invited me to observe meetings with attorneys in chambers and  to join his lunch outings with his clerks. 

As a newly-practicing attorney, a trial judge took the time to talk to me in chambers about law practice in general, sharing advice such as, "only object when it is really important."   Many attorneys shared advice, too, such as "watch the white hairs" in court to find out how to litigate effectively.  These experienced attorneys and judges showed me by example that the practice of law is more than books and briefs—that ours is truly a learned profession and much of what we learn is through caring enough to take time for each other as fellow professionals.

 

~~~~~

 

 *Any opinion or views expressed in blogs posted on this site are those of the identified author and not the Committee as a whole.

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