On May 29, 2014, the Dallas Bar Association will host its annual Law Student Professionalism Program to educate future attorneys on embodying the ideals of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and the Guidelines of Professional Courtesy.
“Both future and practicing lawyers face the same issue,” said Kathryne Morris, an associate at Strasburger and Price and co-vice chair of the DBA’s Morris Harrell Professionalism Committee that sponsors the program. “The public’s confidence in lawyers is diminishing as the result of the perception that unprofessional conduct and ‘Rambo’ tactics often win out over what’s right. As a result, the lack of professionalism is compromising the public’s esteem of the justice system itself.”
While Morris noted that law schools have been “a bit slower than the rest of the profession to make professionalism a priority,” she noted that more are placing an increasing focus on professionalism education in orientations, classes, clinics, lectures, and mentoring programs. Resources like these, as well as DBA’s event, play an important role in preparing young lawyers for a career marked by integrity and respect.
“Students and young lawyers generally know the golden rule, and that rule provides a good baseline,” said Morris. “But the practice of law includes a number of other rules that can complicate young lawyers’ abilities to intuit how to act professionally. For example, it may not be immediately apparent to a new lawyer that he or she should always agree to reasonable requests for extensions of time and for waiver of procedural formalities, provided legitimate objectives of the client will not be adversely affected. In other words, there are aspects of professionalism that need to be taught.”
To address common professionalism-related issues that law students and young lawyers frequently encounter, the DBA’s Law Student Professionalism Program will feature a keynote presentation by the Honorable Tonya Parker, judge of the 116th District Court in Dallas; a panel discussion on helping young lawyers succeed; a peer-to-peer discussion on the Texas Lawyer’s Creed; small group discussions of real-world professionalism issues led by local judges and lawyers; and a business etiquette presentation by past DBA President Frank E. Stevenson.
The program, held from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Belo Mansion in Dallas, is free and open to all law students, young lawyers, and recent law graduates.