By Edd Roberts, Roberts Law Office, PA
First posted on: Tenth J.D. Bar Professionalism Newsletter: November 2017
This past February marked the 20 year anniversary of our Creed of Professionalism. The creed states, in part: “As lawyers, we are guardians of our legal system, and we have an important professional responsibility to recognize, honor and enhance the rule of law. We are in a privileged position and therefore, we work under special obligations. To forget or to set aside these obligations is to dishonor our profession.” (Creed of Professionalism of the North Carolina Wake County/Tenth Judicial Bar, 1997).
These words are the result of a collaborative effort of intelligent men and women who understood the obligations of those called to our profession, and who desired to charge those of us who are honored to practice law. As a newly minted lawyer I was given a copy of this creed, which I promptly framed along with my various degrees to display on my bare office walls. Despite the fact that these words hang only a short distance away from where I regularly work, I am guilty of not reading them as much as I should or giving them the contemplation and reflection that they warrant. In fact, in today’s environment especially with the evolution of the smartphone, everyone seems to be in a constant communication rush. I am routinely guilty of multi-tasking with texts and e-mails to clients and other attorneys when walking between the office and the courthouse, not taking the time I need to focus on how to best honor my profession. Instead of interacting with colleagues in my immediate surroundings while I’m in court waiting to speak with a prosecutor or go before a judge, I too often am on my smartphone checking and returning e-mails. My client interactions seem to be less face to face and more emailing and text messaging. I find myself dealing with attorneys, judges, and court personnel more through emailing and text messaging now more than ever. There seems to be a constant draw for me to check for new emails and text messages now that I walk around with a computer in my pocket 24/7. While I want to keep up with the advances in the way we communicate and have it compliment me in my practice of law, this need to provide an immediate response frequently interferes with the opportunities that surround me. Thank goodness I don’t know how to tweet, snapchat, or instant message via Facebook or I wouldn’t have time for anything else during my day. Reflecting on all this, I have to ask myself, “Am I taking time during my day to embrace these guiding beliefs or losing sight of them with all this constant communication?” For me the only way to know for sure that I’m diligently following these guiding beliefs is to keep the creed fresh in my memory. Knowing this, I have dusted off my framed creed and repositioned it on the wall in my office above my writing desk, so that while seated I can plainly see these words every day which make me more likely to read them. In doing so, I hope to remind myself as I work hard to succeed and prosper that the practice of law is a profession and not a business. To always remember as I go about my profession that I have certain responsibilities to my clients, to the public, to my colleagues, to the courts, and to opposing counsel. To digest this creed on a regular basis is the best way for me to ensure that I don’t lose sight of these responsibilities. And if you would like a copy of the creed……text me and I will email you one….or you could just simply ask me for one too.