Ethics and Professionalism – Unforgiving Minute
The program is a very detailed and personal study of Ethics and Professionalism as told by someone who was very successful in the practice of law, both in government and private practice before getting himself into serious legal and ethical difficulties, losing his law license and spending years in private counseling and psycho-therapy.
Specifically, the program studies the requirements that a lawyer represent clients to the best of his or her ability, communicating regularly and effectively with the client, including meetings and phone calls on a regular basis, the necessity of maintaining complete honesty with the client at all times, being zealous and passionate in that representation, maintaining the dignity and high standards of the legal profession, and doing all of this on a timely basis.
Essentially, this program is a personal study of the Rules of Professional Conduct, telling the audience what he did wrong, what led to those mistakes and how lawyers today can keep themselves from similar situations.
Specific points discussed are:
- Passion in the practice of law
- Legal preparation for the client
- Honest and straightforward advice for the client
- Ethical dealings with other lawyers and the court
- Communicating regularly with the client – (returning telephone calls)
- Honesty in dealing with money and fees from the client (a study of trust accounts)
- Dangers to the lawyer if violations of ethical conduct occur – both criminal and Bar investigations
- Consequences to the lawyer for violations – loss of law license…loss of freedom
- Making certain that every client is treated the same with a high degree of professionalism and passion
- Requirements that all writings and verbal communications with a client and court are honest
In addition, in recognition that lawyers are in a high stress environment, there is a detailed discussion of the mental illness of depression, how it can come about and how it can affect lawyers and their performances and conduct, what should a lawyer do if he or she is suffering from depression, what are the symptoms specifically to lawyers, how other lawyers should react to someone suffering from depression and finally how to get better.
There is a discussion as to how to survive the adversities of practicing law and making the occasional mistakes – that is – the requirement to accept responsibility quickly and completely.
The goal of the program is to show what can happen to anyone if he or she is not careful in obtaining protection from the dangers of violating Ethical Rules for Lawyers. The goal is to make lawyers realize more fully the responsibilities they have with respect to their clients.
I present the program in my own personal story of years ago in how I went to the top of the legal profession in North Carolina and then fell quickly and completely. I discuss the danger and warning signs to lawyers, and how they can prevent what happened with me from happening to them.