By Jeffrey A. Abrams, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP
I had the honor of attending law school orientation on Saturday, August 16 at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. I sat on the dais with the Honorable Jose Salinas of Marion Superior Court, the Honorable Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and McKinney School of Law Dean Andrew Klein. I listened to Dean Klein speak proudly of the couple hundred first-year law students sitting eagerly in the school atrium in anticipation of the first day of school. All of them were nicely dressed and excited to be part of the classes of 2016 and 2017. They were there with their parents, family and friends to begin their journey toward earning their doctor of jurisprudence degrees and standing tall with all of us as attorneys.
Judge Salinas told them to be proud of what they have achieved, but that it is just the beginning of an incredible journey that lies ahead. He noted that he looked forward to having them appear before him at some point in time in the near future—hesitating before he specified “as attorneys”—and that he looked forward to their impressive statements on behalf of their clients. He admonished them that some of them would be right and some of them would be wrong.
Judge Magnus-Stinson reminded students of the five C’s of professionalism:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Courtesy — We will at all times act with dignity, civility, decency and courtesy in all professional activities and will refrain from rude, disruptive, disrespectful, obstructive and abusive behavior.
5. 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 the public good.
She also warned them that their studies and challenges would not be similar to “Paper Chase.” While many of them had stars in their eyes and were clearly not recalling the classic television show, I am sure their parents understood the excitement and challenges that they face.
The students were incredibly attentive to both judges’ comments as I saw very few of them looking down to read and/or respond to an email or text that they might have just received. After I finished listening to two energetic, intellectual and passionate statements from both judges, it was my turn to stand before them as the President of the Indianapolis Bar Association and figure out how I could impart some words of wisdom.
I told them the best way for them to find a job besides studying hard and learning the law was to become an active member of the Indianapolis Bar Association. I described many of the outstanding achievements that our members obtain through service to our community, including Ask a Lawyer, helping eighth graders understand the election process in the United States and our delivery of Constitutions to all new United States citizens during naturalization ceremonies.
I described our creative and energetic attorneys forming the Indy Attorneys Network Section to help lawyers network with and meet other lawyers. This section, to our knowledge, was the first of its kind in any bar association in the country. I conveyed to them the stories of young lawyers meeting their future employers through IndyBar-sponsored monthly luncheons or social events. And, knowing that the students had been there since 9:30 a.m., just after noon I imparted to them the most memorable quote of the day:
Hanging with the Indianapolis Bar Association is the only place to be.
The cost to join is really economical – I guarantee you won’t disagree.
When you come to events, people are friendly and won’t give you the third degree.
And most importantly, you get to meet brilliant, successful and good looking attorneys— just like me.
What more could they ask for in their first day of introduction to the practice of law?