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IBA: Make Time to Pause for Professionalism

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Civility and professionalism — and often the lack of it — have become increasingly discussed subjects in judicial opinions and between lawyers. To recognize and advance the importance of civility and professionalism in the legal profession, several years ago the Indianapolis Bar Association founded a Professionalism Committee. This Committee has undertaken several projects, most of which are driven by the “Standards of Professionalism” adopted by the Committee. Those standards can be found at www.indybar.org/resources/professionalism.

We are all aware of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Indiana Rules For Admission To The Bar And The Discipline Of Attorneys, the Rules For Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Code of Judicial Conduct. Those rules spell out the formal parameters that govern our conduct as lawyers and judges. A new program from the Indianapolis Bar Association seeks to quickly and easily add some practical insight about how those rules apply in daily practice.

Over the last year, the Professionalism Committee and numerous preeminent members of the Indianapolis Bar Association and the Judiciary have worked on a new initiative entitled, “Pause for Professionalism.” The purpose of this program is to provide members of the Bar Association with quick (no more than 5 minutes) and easy to access (just “click”) videos that are delivered to your in-box. The presenters are highly respected judges and lawyers who give a succinct presentation on the practical application of topics dealing with civility, professionalism, and/or ethics. You can look forward to seeing videos from Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker, Chief Judge Margret Robb, Judge Gerald Zore, Melissa Avery, Bob Hammerle, Wayne Turner, Melissa Proffitt Reese, and John Van Winkle. The subjects include civility in family law, discovery, criminal law, appeals, mediation, business transactions, and more.

Beginning in March, please keep your eye open for the “Pause for Professionalism” link within the IndyBar weekly e-bulletins. The Professionalism Committee encourages you to click on these videos and take no more than five minutes of your time to “Pause for Professionalism.” New videos will be distributed every other month; following their debut each will be available for viewing anytime on the IndyBar website at http://www.indybar.org/resources/video-gallery.php.•
 

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  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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