A Creed to Live By
ORIGINALLY POSTED 2/10/10–Last semester in my Professional Responsibility class we studied the Texas Lawyer’s Creed which is essentially a mission statement for the legal profession. The Creed outlines lawyers’ professional responsibilities to the legal system, clients, other lawyers and the judiciary. The concepts were abstract to me then, but recently I came across my handout and one in particular caught my eye: I am responsible to assure that all persons have access to competent representation regardless of wealth or position in life. What does that mean and how does one strive to consistently meet this objective when in many cases the bottom line is all about money?
I got a call from my aunt who was hit by a car in November. Two law firms have dropped her case. We talked at length about their possible reasons since neither firm has bothered to explain why. As a future lawyer I understand the economic logic of rejecting a case when its facts may make it difficult to win, but where does that leave the victim who’s been wronged and can find no advocate? Are we as a society ok with people getting run over by a car and left on the hook for medical bills, time away from work, and a decreased quality of life because the end result may not net huge dollars for the firm? I don’t think so, and it seems that’s not the profession envisioned by the Creed.
In reality most cases don’t show up neat and tidy so that you get the big pay day with minimal work. I’m not saying that you have to take every case that walks in the door, but at minimum, every potential client deserves your honesty and your professionalism whether or not you take their case. It’s easy to forget, but each file in any firm’s office represents a real person with a real issue that changed their lives or they’d not need legal representation. I hope I never become so “seasoned” and so “professional” that I forget that being a lawyer should be less about money and more about helping people.