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IBA: A little professional humor

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As part of its ongoing efforts to promote professionalism, the Professionalism Committee of the Indianapolis Bar Association has borrowed from the format of a popular comedian to portray everyday scenarios that may illustrate situations in which lawyers may fall short of each of the committee’s five Standards of Professionalism. We hope that this presentation will remind IndyBar members of the standards, perhaps provide a little entertainment, and – to the extent any of the examples resonate with your own experience – help to maintain and promote our commitment to these standards.

Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if …

I Commitment

We are committed to practicing law in a manner that maintains and fosters public confidence in our profession, faithfully serves our clients, and fulfills our responsibilities to the legal system.

Our commitment to fostering public confidence in our profession and fulfilling our responsibilities to the legal system requires us to avoid denigrating other lawyers, judges and the courts – the very people and institutions that comprise our profession and our legal system. Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if, upon receiving an unfavorable ruling, you say things such as:

“The judge obviously did not read our papers or listen to us.”

“The judge took the easy way out.”

“The judge did not understand the issues.”

“The opposing counsel should not have … (however you may complete this sentence, the simple act of criticizing other lawyers often undermines public confidence in our profession).

II Character

We will strictly adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of the Rules of Professional Conduct and will at all times be guided by a fundamental sense of honor, integrity and fair play.

Our commitment to adhering to the Rules of Professional Conduct requires us to be familiar with those rules, and our commitment to a fundamental sense of honor, integrity and fair play requires us to view opposing counsel with respect. Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if you:

Often find yourself having “no idea” of what the Rules of Professional Conduct actually provide with respect to a situation confronting you.

View the Rules of Professional Conduct as a hindrance to be grudgingly observed, rather than enthusiastically promoted.

III Competence

We will conduct ourselves to assure the just, economical and efficient resolution of every matter entrusted to us consistent with thoroughness and professional preparation.

Our commitment to the economical and efficient resolution of matters requires us to refrain from unnecessarily driving up litigation expenses or unnecessarily delaying resolution of disputes. Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if you make statements such as:

“I don’t expect to win this motion but we should file it just to make them spend some money on the litigation.”

“I don’t expect to win this motion but we need to show the client that we are doing something.”

“I didn’t bother to review the file before the hearing because …”

IV Courtesy

We will at all times act with dignity, civility, decency and courtesy in all professional activities and refrain from rude, disruptive, obstructive and abusive behavior.

Our commitment to civility requires that we display no less courtesy in our professional lives than we do to friends, family or even complete strangers in our personal lives. Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if:

You speak to opposing counsel in a manner that you would not use to speak to someone standing in front of you at a check-out line of a grocery store.

You describe an inability to reach agreement on an issue as a some type of character flaw on the part of opposing counsel, rather than “a disputed issue for the court to decide.”

You cannot recall the last time you apologized to opposing counsel, co-counsel, a client, or a court for anything at all.

You fail to alert opposing counsel before sending a harsh letter of the underlying problem that necessitates the harsh tone.

You tell the receptionist to “put it in voice mail” more often than you say “put it through.”

There are lawyers in town that avoid you.

There are lawyers in town that you avoid.

There are either (i) lawyers in town that avoid you; or (ii) lawyers in town that you avoid but (iii) you have not reached out to them to repair the relationship.

V Community Involvement

We recognize that the practice is a learned profession to be conducted with dignity, integrity and honor dedicated to the service of clients and public good.

Stated another way, you might be acting unprofessionally if:

All your pro bono cases turned out that way unexpectedly.

You believe that community involvement is a really good idea but leave it to someone else to handle.•

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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