October is Legal Professionalism Month in Colorado, as proclaimed by Chief Justice Nancy Rice, Colorado Bar Association President Loren Brown, and Deans Martin Katz and Phil Weiser. Each week this month, we will be sharing a professionalism pearl of wisdom from a member of the bench or bar.

The DBA YLD will share some of these “pearls over the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy them!

LPM_fulllogoLegal Professionalism Month aims to encourage members of the legal profession, professional entities, and judicial officers and staff to rededicate themselves to demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism and integrity and promote public confidence in the profession and the court system.

  1. From Judge Andre Rudolph: Being polite, prepared, punctual and patient = professionalism.
  1. From Judge Wayne Patton: Never argue with or be rude to court clerks. They will tell the judge.
  1. From the CDLA: Don’t be an a** hole.
  1. From Judge Jim Casebolt: Why would I ever let the behavior of another person dictate my own?
  1. From Kent Olsen: Don’t wrestle with pigs. The pigs like it and you just get dirty.
  1. From Dennis J. Jacobson: The nicest thing about telling the truth is you don’t have to remember what you said.
  1. From Dennis J. Jacobson: Good manners are never out of style. Neither is professional courtesy.
  1. From Dennis J. Jacobson: Nobody likes a smart ass.
  1. From Dennis J. Jacobson: I never got in trouble before a judge for something I did not say.
  1. From Justice Brian Boatright (via Jennifer Tibbits Knudsen, a former clerk): At the end of the day all we have is our reputation.
  1. From John Lobus: I had been practicing law for about four months when my boss told me at the last minute to attend my first deposition in a case involving several parties and even more lawyers, all with 17th Street addresses in suits worth more than my weekly salary. Aside from the obligatory greeting and handshake, all treated me as if I weren’t there or at best condescendingly while we waited to get started. Then Bill Ris entered the room. While I can’t remember exactly what he said, I remember how he instantly made me feel like an equal, even though he was one of the esteemed members of the Bar even then. He made a lasting impression. I’ve tried to act the same with other lawyers in the 42 years since then, although I am sure several would say I’ve fallen woefully short of the goal.
  1. From Chief Judge Gregory Lyman: The right to remain silent is underutilized by judges as well.
  1. From Debra J. Ehrenstrasser: Fair is like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder.
  1. From Steve Jensen: the words which freeze between the speaker’s lips, are unlikely to warm the listener’s heart.
  1. From Mike Freeman: My “pearl of wisdom” is utilized when I have to deal with opposing counsel who are obnoxious and/or unprofessional. In those instances I “kill them with kindness,” meaning the more obnoxious they get, the more kind and pleasant I become. They quickly lose interest when they realize they are not going to get to me, and I feel better having taken the “high road.”
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Be early.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Be over prepared.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Talk to colleagues in the courthouse, greet them, be genuine, know their names.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Always stand when addressing the bench.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Always be polite to everyone.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Give advice to colleagues when asked.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Follow up as represented.
  1. From Jessica Ryan: Be available.
  1. From the late Daniel S. Hoffman (via Judge Rich Gabriel): Take out the adjectives and adverbs.
  1. From Jason R. Young: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Friedrich Nietzche
  1. From Jason R. Young: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” Albert Einstein
  1. From Joan Allgaier: There is no need to yell or disparage; wait a day before making that phone call or sending that email.
  1. From Mike Jones: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Thumper’s father.
  1. From Jack Handy (author of “Deep Thoughts”) via Jeffrey Clay Ruebel: Sometimes I think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world could just live together in peace?” But then I think, “Well, that really wouldn’t be fair to lawyers, would it?”
  1. From C. Gregory Tiemeier: When the case comes in and I am unfamiliar with opposing counsel, I usually invite them to lunch. I tell them that my preference is to NOT talk about the case, but just get to know them. It has helped greatly in decreasing the rancor of litigation, and I am sure saved tens of thousands in discovery disputes.
  1. From Peter Goldstein: “You may ask what then will become of the fundamental principles of equity and fair play which our constitutions enshrine; and whether I seriously believe that unsupported they will serve merely as counsels of moderation. I do not think that anyone can say what will be left of those principles; I do not know whether they will serve only as counsels; but this much I think I do know – that a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save; that in a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nurture of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish.” Judge Learned Hand, “The Contribution of an Independent Judiciary to Civilization” (1942).
  1. From Heather Salg: Never email when angry.
  1. From the Chief Justice: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard, at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt 1906.

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