LAWYER PROFESSIONALISM IN CLIENT RELATIONS
As regular readers know, last year I was appointed to the faculty of the Virginia State Bar’s mandatory course on lawyer professionlism. This course is otherwise known as the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course. It is certainly an honor to be appointed to the faculty. The appointment generally entails teaching one or two (or more) seminars per year. From time to time, a lawyer may also be asked to give a lecture on one of a set of pre-determined topics.
The course is, in keeping with the seriousness of its nature, very structured. The faculty is carefully screened and the contents are carefully assembled. Participants attend series of lecutres and workshops over the course of an eight-hour day. I was asked to give one of the lectures at the March 6, 2019 session of the course in Alexandria. Well, I actually wasn’t asked exactly, but I would have accepted anyway and I considered it an honor.
My assigned topic was “Professionalism in client relationships.” The other two lectures are entitled “Professionalism in relationships with other lawyers” and “Professionalism in relationships with the Court.” The very precise instruction given by Judge Lannetti was to prepare a written lecture of 20 to 23 minutes. The lecture is read, which is quite unlike any other speech one may give. A lawyer is also required to email the lecture to Judge Lanneti one week before the course so he can approve or disapprove it.
This may seem strict but there is no other way to ensure a high quality year in and year out. If lawyers were allowed to give thier lectures in any way they see fit, we would wind up with some brilliant speeches. We would also wind up with some very lousy speeches. I think that would be completely contrary to the nature of professionalism. It might even defeat the whole purpose of the course.
This was either my second or third time teaching the course, but it was the first time I was asked to give a lecture. So, I am not sure if I did it right or not. But since March 6 I have been emailed by a few participants asking for a copy of my lecture, so I thought it might be of broader interest. I attach the lecture here.
VIRGINIA CONTINUES TO ATTRACT HIGH CALIBER NEW LAWYERS
Two things I have noticed that I think speak well of the new Virginia lawyers are the following: first, few people learn the truly mandatory nature of the course the hard way. In other words, by failing to take the course and having thier brand-new law license suspended. I had thought that there would be at least two or three every year, but in fact it almost never happens.
One additional thing impresses me thus far, and I think this one is perhaps best of all — I almost never see a new lawyer on his or her phone during the seminar. Judge Lanneti runs a tight ship, and each time we teach the seminar, he instructs us that phone or device use is absolutely prohibited. The first time I taught the course, I was bracing to fight attendees over phone use. Many people these days seem to have an addiction to thier phones…but I have been pleased that not one single new Virginia lawyer has been removed from the seminar for using a phone.
In short, the new Virginia lawyers I have had the privilege of teaching are a fine continuation of our long tradition of excellence in professionalism.