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Professionalism in Georgia

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Professionalism in Georgia

This course will focus on the history of professionalism in Georgia and explore significant cases that have lead the professionalism movement in Georgia. Attorney Chuck Dalziel will explore the definition of attorney professionalism while using practical examples to illustrate the various aspects of the aspirational statement on professionalism as found in the Lawyers Creed of Georgia.

Transcript

Good afternoon. My name is Charles Dalziel. I'm an attorney in Marietta, Georgia. And I'm going to be talking today about professionalism in Georgia. Um, the Supreme Court has a chief justice's committee on professionalism. And what we're going to do first is we're going to talk about how we got to the point where we have even a chief Justice's committee or commission on professionalism and what the source of this professionalism movement is, is a case involving DuPont, the chemical company, and some farmers that occurred in the. Uh, late 80s and early 90s in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, before now deceased Federal Judge Robert Elliott. And one of the things that you need to think about when you think about this and the timing of the litigation and the aftermath was that these judges that were in the towns, say, like Macon, Georgia, or Judge Elliott in Columbus, Georgia, the judges in Augusta, Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, like Judge Alaimo, these were judges that were independent of the Democratic rule that was in vogue in the late 60s, early 70s. And these judges were actually sort of apart from the political machine, and they were appointed by Republican President Nixon. And so these judges had sort of a wild streak. Among them actually appeared many times in front of Judge Alaimo. And he certainly had a interesting and unusual way of controlling his courtroom. And Judge Elliot. The judge in this DuPont case was the same way. And so what happened was they had a trial between DuPont and grower and the grower was using DuPont's chemical or, you know, the chemical that helps to. Stop insect and other damage to the crops. The product was called Benlate and there was an issue about whether if you put Benlate in your fields, it would contaminate the fields treated with it so as to actually hurt the crop yield. So in this situation. An attorney at Alston and Bird, Elizabeth Gilley was preparing a witness from DuPont for a deposition. And the position of DuPont throughout the case had been that Benlate didn't cause contamination. But now this expert witness for DuPont, I think it was an actual DuPont employee. He he tells Gilly that he's got evidence that shows that Benlate does cause contamination. So the deposition was supposed to be the next day. And so Gilly misrepresented to the other side, which was led by sort of famous plaintiff's lawyer, Neil Pope. She falsely represents to him that the witness is unavailable and fraudulently induces cancellation of the deposition. And she withholds the documents from Discovery. And later, less witnesses tell Elliot that all responsive documents have been produced while the documents are still being withheld. But then they were going to reschedule the deposition about a month later, and they sort of had a change of heart and and sort of in the early evening or. You know, even lighter on June the 3rd at a time when we didn't have the. Communication devices that we have now, you know, like email and text messages and all that sort of thing. They actually produce the physical documents. Okay. And. So what happened was that. The. Situation kind of just unraveled at this point and got worse and worse. We had the lead counsel for DuPont, Dr. Patrick at Austin, and Bird telling the jury at the trial that there was no evidence of contamination, even though DuPont itself had the evidence. And we had, you know, many multiple statements that the judge considered to be, you know, completely outrageous and far, far, far outside the bounds of ethics. Okay. And so. What happened was that during the trial, you had a settlement. The lawyers, led by Neil Pope, had been claiming that there was $430 million in damages. Okay. But the. Case actually settled during the trial for $425 Million based on the idea that there wasn't real evidence of the contamination. And so Gilley was the one who was closest to the information that the DuPont experts had. Okay. The court held after creating a huge record. It's in a reported case that it had never experienced the kind of deliberate refusal to comply with discovery orders that was evidently taking place in this case. And it became apparent to the court that DuPont was using its in-house legal staff, local Wilmington, Delaware Counsel, National Coordinating Council and the Alston and Bird Lawyers to carry out a deliberate effort to restrict legitimate discovery in these and similar cases. And the court entered an order making such a finding on March the 13th, 15th of 1993. Okay. So this is not or this was not the first point at which the judge had ruled that Alston Bird had abused Discovery. There was a previous $500,000 fine and it was conditional, but it was increased to $1 million after DuPont and also the Bearcat committing discovery abuse. And the evidence was not communicated to the plaintiffs. The evidence of the contamination, despite DuPont's clear duty to do so. And in fact, it was deliberately and consciously kept by the defendant from becoming part of the evidence. And then what ended up happening was Judge Elliott ruled or inferred or whatever you want to call it, that, you know, they got a much, much better settlement for having. Withheld the evidence than they would have otherwise. So this is the case that's going to open the door for the professionalism concept in Georgia. Okay. The DuPont was based on science or their business was chemicals. And so. The fact that its own scientists, its own chemist, had made a finding that Benlate was contaminated would be particularly grave for DuPont and. So what happened was they had an outside vendor doing some of this work and they had. A situation where it needed to be potentially confirmed that bin Light caused this type of situation. But I learned a new word in preparing for this. What actually was requested by DuPont of the outside vendor lab was to de firm the positive findings, meaning to make them go away. Okay, so that's the antonym of confirm. And so John had had a record that indicated that DuPont had told the experts to flush the evidence and do new tests designed to render the results we want. Then we'll offer them and. So what ended up happening was they changed the testing procedures. They changed the level of effect that would be needed for the test to be positive. They repeatedly redid the test and massaged them. They homogenised soil samples that had been found to be contaminated by putting other dirt in there to make it less contaminated. And they concealed. Um. All the documents that showed what they were doing, basically. Okay, so what ended up happening was that. The. Positive tests were actually disclosed after the trial and after the settlement. As a result of a case that was actually decided in Hawaii and the lawyers for the growers in the Columbus area, they found out about the disclosures that had been made in the Hawaii case. So basically what they ended up doing was the plaintiff's lawyers actually asked that the settlement be vacated and that DuPont be sanctioned for their discovery abuse. And the court found that DuPont knew from at least early in the week before the witness in question gave his Discovery deposition that there had been numerous initial positive findings of contamination findings which the chemist conducting the test had testified he recognized as potentially bad news for DuPont and which he assumed might establish liability for damage. Okay. And remember that the claim damages were $430 million with a settlement of $4.25 million, basically 1% of the damages. Okay. And so interestingly, you know, in the aftermath of this, you know, you see what happened to the individual, Alston and bird lawyers who were specifically held to have made representations misrepresentations to the court. Okay. And, you know, so the part that Gilley was responsible for was the role she had in getting the expert witness qualified and misrepresenting what he had done. This is at the trial, what he had done when she was getting him qualified as an expert witness. And then at the trial, Kirkpatrick advocated for letting the lying, lying expert witness testify. And he actually said, we have now got someone that has analyzed all of the samples, and we'll come in here and tell this court and this jury that there are no contaminants on the property, in the plants or in the product. And we believe that testimony is critical. Critical? Yes. True. No. And then he also did that same thing in the closing argument. And then and then what happened was after they argued the case while it was with the jury, that was when the case settled. Okay. What ended up happening was that in Hawaii, the litigation fraud was exposed and the court there sanctioned DuPont 1.5 million. And then. Dupont was actually trying to get Judge Elliott to deny the motion to overturn the settlement. And he made these very, very damaging conclusions about DuPont and the Austin and Bernard lawyers about what they'd done, you know, to get it into a position where they could settle it so cheaply. Giving a distorted reading to the plain meaning of words, creating a whole series of after the fact, excuses put forward legally and factually inconsistent efforts at justifying misconduct contradicted his own solemn representations to other courts made to induce those courts to rule favorably to DuPont and resisting producing witnesses before the court who have knowledge of the facts. And then Todd David, one of the lawyers, actually gave some false testimony in this hearing. So what did Judge Elliott sort of being kind of the independent from the. You know, buddy, buddy group of Georgia lawyers. What did he do in the case? He actually assessed a sanction of almost $7 million against DuPont. And. He also. Ruled that they had. Dupont had caused. Waste the time, inconvenience, waste of judicial resources, both on the court and the jury panel where the pre-trial and the trial. So he also sanctioned him for an additional almost $7 million, the same exact figure. So the sanction was about $14 million. But he didn't just want that to happen. Okay. That wasn't enough in his mind. And so he told them they had to put, you know, what ended up being $13.7 million into the registry. The Court Within 15 days. But he also issued a sanction of $100 million against them. And you got to remember that this is all ongoing, you know, and like every day, you know, you as a lawyer for DuPont, you're going like, what's Judge Elliot going to do today? Well, DuPont instead of being. In a contrite about it, they actually took a full page ad out in The Wall Street Journal. They said we categorically deny any and all allegations that DuPont has improperly withheld information either in the courtroom or elsewhere from the outset of this unfortunate situation. We have acted honorably within the judicial process with our customers and in full accord with the law. And so obviously, that ad caused a stiff reaction from Judge Elliot. And what it was was the $100 million sanction. So they could purge themselves. Uh, of $101 worth of sanctions if they put a second ad in The Wall Street Journal and acknowledged their wrongdoing, they would also have to put the same ad into Alabama and Georgia newspapers that had the most wide circulation and the newspaper in the state of Michigan that had the most circulation. And so they had to decide. They put them to a decision, which one are you going to do? And. So they had to notify the court, you know, the election. If they didn't purge the sanctions by doing these newspaper ads, then they had to put the $101 million in the registry in court within the 15 days. Okay. This was a this was appealed and the sanctions were reversed procedurally. And they said these sanctions were so punitive that they were the equivalent of criminal contempt sanctions. And if you have criminal contempt sanctions, you're entitled to due process rights like you would have in a criminal case. And since Judge Elliott had not afforded them those protections, the sanctions had to be reversed. Okay. So that was a big win for also the Byrd. But the 11th Circuit and a footnote specifically said that they think that the US appropriate US attorney, it assumes, will shortly begin an investigation of this whole matter if he or she has not already done so, because DuPont and its counsel may well have engaged in criminal acts. Okay. So you know, we're talking about here is just like this unbelievably massive ethical violation situation. Okay. So what ended up happening was Judge Elliott was taken off the case and Judge Hugh Lawson, who was also the middle district, he was a judge from Perry. He ended up having the case. And so what ended up happening was that they had $250,000 paid by Austin and Burt to the middle district US attorney. And that goes as seed money to start the Georgia Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism. And then DuPont pays 1 million to sponsor an annual symposium on professionalism and then the four accredited law schools in Georgia. At the time, Emory Mercer, UGA and Georgia State each got $2.5 million to fund an annual symposium on legal ethics that rotates among the schools. Okay, Now that's what they decided to do as a remedy for these massive ethical violations. And so from this, we had sort of a phoenix like we have, as we consider from the city of Atlanta, where the professionalism movement grew out of concern for ethical violations. Okay. The aftermath for these three individuals. And this actually is going to be relevant to what I'm going to say later. Kirkpatrick's now dead. Gillian now calls herself Liz Price. I think that's because she got divorced and actually she's not laundering so much as training. Training lawyers and Austin and Bird. Now she's charged with hiring, training and developing all of also Bird's lawyers, even though she had done these things. And Tom David, the one who had given false testimony to Judge Elliott, you know, being in a big firm, ended up as actually the lawyer of the year for securities litigation in two different cities in two different years with the best lawyers in America. And. You know, he basically had a fantastic career. This situation didn't relieve and put a slight ding in his situation. So. The Georgia professionalism instruction that we receive today has nothing to do with ethics. So, you know, the remedies agreed to. Although they were specifically required to satisfy the ethical violations, the remedy that was imposed in connection with the settlement that Judge Lawson approved went to something that wasn't really even on a scoreboard at the time. The concept of professionalism as opposed to the concept of ethics. So now we're going to talk about professionalism and how the. Chief justices. Commission on Professionalism has managed the professionalism, education, what criteria and standards they put out in that sort of thing. What is the Supreme Court concerned with as to professionalism? Okay. It's not ethics. That's what I just said. The best explanation of the distinction between ethics and professionalism is that offered by former Chief Justice Harold Clark of the Georgia Supreme Court. The idea is that ethics is the minimum standard, like the Georgia Rules of Professional conduct. That's the minimum standard that's required of all lawyers. But professionalism is a higher standard that the Supreme Court. They're the ones that are putting out the expectations. The Supreme Court is having this expectation of all the lawyers who are Georgia Bar to comply with these professionalism standards. And therefore, we have to take ClA specifically on professionalism every year. One of the first concepts that the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism has to establish is the concept of what is a professional, because you can't really have professionalism until you have an idea of what a professional is and a professional lawyer. The consensus that they've come up with is that that person is an expert in law pursuing a learned art and service to clients. And in the spirit of public service and engaging in these pursuits as part of a common calling to promote justice and public good. And so what the Commission intends is to try to appeal to the higher virtues of all lawyers and actually have the idea that the work they do, even though it's in service to clients, that it's actually a public service that promotes the public good. And they say that our work can actually promote justice. Central to this concept is that the lawyer has a higher calling to engage in public service while fulfilling their ethical duties. So if you're looking at that, you know, you're looking like at a building that's like the greatest. Example of architecture that was ever created. You know, it's a very, very lofty concept. But as we've seen over the now about 30 years, that this professionalism education has been required in Georgia, that if professionalism is easily watered down and retired Chief Justice Norma Fletcher, who now works for James, he often explained his sense of professionalism as follows. And what he said was that to to a great extent, professionalism is practicing the golden rule. It is not do my opponent in before my opponent does me in, but rather it is to do unto your fellow attorneys, the judges and society as you would have them do unto you. Okay. So that. Really is a universal concept. That's golden rule concept. It's kind of a universal concept. You know, over the whole world, basically, in all religions. And so. It. Is not. The lofty expression that we have above is so much spongier concept. And that's part of what I'm going to talk about as we go forward. I would say based on my 43 years of experience in practicing law, that Fletcher's comment is completely out of step with the practice of law today. And one of the things that we need to do as a part of the professionalism movement is to move the practice of law more toward Fletcher's comment. And. You know what? What we see is that we have a lot of lawyers today who engage in very sharp practices, who will do anything to do their opponent in before their opponent does them in. Completely contrary to what Fletcher was talking about. And I can give you some examples of that. You know, you have the plausibility standard in federal court where your claim only survives a motion to dismiss and gets to go to Discovery if your claim is plausible. But in Georgia, it's straight up notice pleading like you were taught in law school and you don't even have to plead all of the elements of the claim in order to state a claim. All you have to do is to give the defendant notice of your claim. And then, as Judge Yvette Miller has said several times, Discovery fills in the details. Well, in my case, especially in cases all over the state, despite that undoubtedly being the law, there's no if, ands or buts about it. That is the law. We have many lawyers who will file motions to dismiss, not crediting the compliance required by the procedure, and they cite a bunch of summary judgment cases in support of a motion to dismiss. And so they say, well, you don't get a factual record in your case. But the reason that you don't is because in these other cases where they did get a complete factual record, summary judgment was granted. And, you know, because of the. Caseload that a lot of these judges have. Some of the judges interminably sit on benches that are fouled and they just don't ruin, they don't rule, they don't rule. But in other cases, judges, you know, kind of want to clean up their dockets. And they do that in part by having calendar calls that people don't show up for, and then they dismiss your case for want of prosecution. But in other cases, they actually grant these motions for summary judgment that not only are not only not winning motions, they're actually instead ethical violations, that there's no way these motions should be filed based under the Georgia law. And so that's a very, very big problem. And it's all motivated by the win at any cost mentality. Okay, knowing that that's the case. The chief justice's commission has put out an aspirational statement on professionalism. And so these are all things that we're supposed to do that we're supposed to aspire to. That were supposed to strive for, even though we might not make it all the way to full completion of it. We're to strive for these things as a part of our effort to exhibit professionalism. The first one is to put fidelity to clients and through clients to the common good before selfish interests. We'll come back to what that actually means as a practical matter. Number two, to model for others, and particularly for my clients, the respect due to those we call upon to resolve our disputes like judges and the regard due to all participants in our dispute resolution processes. That would be opponents, witnesses, mediators, bailiffs, the judges staff, including their law clerk and their assistant and their calendar clerk, the court reporter. Everybody. We're supposed to be a model of respect. We're supposed to avoid all forms of wrongful discrimination. The social goals of equality and fairness should be personal goals for each lawyer. We're aspiring to preserve and improve the law, the legal system and other dispute resolution processes as instruments for the common good. And if you think about it as you studied or listened to a lecture about ancient Greece and. The professor who was lecturing Rufus Spears, who's now dead, but he was a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He actually. Said that the ancient Greek system under Solon. Um. It had the idea of government by Democratic vote. But the other two things that it had was a legal system so that anybody, you know, even the peon in society, could sue anybody else. And the legal system was supported by the right to jury trial. And that was in like 5 or 500 BC. And so. What this particular aspiration is asking us to do is to preserve. A system or a notion that a legal system should exist that's actually existed for, you know, like 2500 years. Okay. And we're supposed to aspire to make the law, the legal system and other dispute resolution processes available to all. We're to practice with a personal commitment to the rules governing our profession. And we're supposed to encourage others to do the same. And I'll talk about this a little bit more in a minute. But you have to figure out in what position or from what position you'd be encouraging others to comply with the rules. It sounds. Collaborative. When you read it first, but then it sort of sounds combative. We're to preserve the dignity and the integrity of our profession by my conduct. It's kind of like let there be peace in the courtroom and let it begin with me. The dignity and the integrity of the profession is an inheritance. Now, going back again to Salon 2500 years ago, there must be maintained by each successive generation of lawyers were to achieve the excellence of our craft, especially those that permit me to be the moral voice of clients to the public and advocacy while being the moral voice of the public, to clients and counseling. Good. Lawrence should be more a moral achievement for both the lawyer and a client. Okay. Now, that's. Kind of counterintuitive to the idea that a lot of people have the reason, actual reason that as a child they want to become lawyers is that they like competition. And so they want to be in a profession that has as its core competition and winners and losers. And finally, we're supposed to aspire to practice law as a not as a business, but as a calling in the spirit of public service. So we're going to make some comments about each aspiration. Okay. All right. So we're supposed to put fidelity to clients above selfish interests. Okay. That must mean my selfish interest. So. The representation is about the client, not about me. But we also have to. Consider in the same equation the common good in representing the client. So that would cut the fidelity that we had to the individual client. And in some situations we might be asked to have the client's interest somewhat subjugated to the common good. If you think about that, there's really not any teeth whatsoever in this aspiration. In actual practice, attention to the common good would mean that a lawyer would not act to corrupt the system by misstating holdings of cases, offering false evidence or hiding adverse evidence because it corrupts a system just like it did in the King Ranch versus DuPont case. But really, the King Ranch versus DuPont case really had more of an effect of having us end up with these kind of like, mission statement statements that you might make in a company or at your church. And there's really no teeth behind them. In the real world of Georgia law practice. Common Good has given virtually no consideration. I don't think anybody that's practiced more than 40 years like I have would disagree with that. And people are not brought up on ethics charges for ethical violations that taint the legal system. So we've got a long, long way to go on that one. Okay, Next slide. Aspiration number two. Um. Okay. We have to give everybody involved due respect. We can't talk harshly to our opponents because that conveys disrespect. Interestingly, though, in the competitive world that we're in, a lot of what lawyers want to do in litigation is intimidate the other side. So we have nine, 15, 14 motions, a piece of litigation, letters, threats surrounding offers of judgment, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And those actually are the most disrespectful acts. One could take it against an opponent. They are saying that your claim in the nine 1514 situation is so bad that it couldn't even have reasonably been filed or in an abusive litigation situation. You actually have to be suing for an improper purpose, you know, and it has to be malicious. So you have to be suing for some reason other than trying to get a monetary judgment. And the problem with this aspiration, particularly, is that the people who do these things like file these nine, 15, 14 motions and send the abusive litigation letters and make other threats, they are the ones who don't provide the due respect. But in the same vein, they demand due respect. So if you respond harshly to one of these bogus threats, what I like to call the sort of professionalism fears, then they label you, they label you as unprofessional for responding harshly to being threatened. I've personally experienced this many times in the last five years. And also it's very likely if you just crush a legal or factual argument in a brief in response, if you get a response or a reply, it's going to be that your tone was unprofessional because on the merits they really don't have anything. So the sword of professionalism is a very, very big problem in our profession. Aspiration number three. We must avoid all forms of discrimination and we must also adopt personal social goals of equality and fairness. This was really strange and kind of funny because law is an inherently and unequal business. That's in fact why a lot of lawyers go into it, why they want to do it. As a child, because it involves competition and it involves winners and losers. Okay. And. I can say that almost no lawyer that I've ever dealt with in my 43 years had the goal of being equal. Lawyers advertise that they're better, stronger, more compassionate and bigger, you know, go big with Morgan and Morgan than their competitors. And it's not just the personal injury billboard lawyers that are telling you that they're better than their competitors. Big firm lawyers are also advertising, you know, but what they're advertising is, is through these outfits like super lawyers or actually super lawyers, has a lot of personal injury lawyers who manipulate the system to get that designation, as well as big firm lawyers who use their marketing teams to do it. And then you have best lawyers, chambers and partners benchmark, you know, and my personal experience has been that. None of these designations and none of the advertisers in the billboard advertising have little or anything to do with reality as far as the ability of the lawyer or their attention to the client's. But this is a goal that we're supposed to have personal commitment to, that it's going to be equal. And yeah, I just find this particularly interesting because diverse lawyers, they want to be unequal to Crump. You know, who we see in all the civil rights cases has gotten very rich, owns a plane flying around to all the sites where the civil rights issues happened. Eric Holder is charging $2,300 an hour. That's documented. Other diverse lawyers from the Obama Biden administration commanding the same kind of. Hourly rates. Diversity is a reason to hire a lawyer, especially for a trial in a specific venue. Law firm structures. And the big law firms are inherently unequal because you have equity and non-equity partners and you know, these days now. Progressive interests are. Many of the buyers of big firm legal services and being in the LGBTQ is actually seen as a competitive advantage and is marketed as such by big firms. And so in all these situations, what lawyers really want to do is stand out. And that's not just the diverse, diverse lawyers. That's every lawyer, basically. And. So this vision of equality that the. Professionalism Commission has is sort of counterintuitive to that. Um, aspiration number four. We're going to preserve and improve the law, the legal system and other dispute resolution processes for the common good. And while there's no consensus as to the common good. Um, you know, we as long as we can do little here, I say, but one thing that I thought about after I. I prepared this slide when I was thinking about last night. Was that what we can do? Is emphasize resolution processes for the common good as opposed to, you know, going full bore out in the procedures of the legal system. And actually the smaller court in Georgia, the magistrate court has a pretty good situation. And what it is, is they require that the parties actually try to settle the case right before they try it. And, you know, they basically have the situation where each side has to put all of their evidence on the table as a part of this process before the trial. And so we can emphasize as lawyers that the actual aim in litigating cases is to have the case resolved. And that doesn't mean that we have to fall on our sword against the client. But in almost all situations, resolution is the most cost effective solution for clients as number five. Is we're going to make the law of the legal system and other dispute resolution processes available to all and. What we need to do in this situation is to have a high level of personal commitment to having the. Legal system and other dispute resolution process is available to the public. If you do that, if you show up with a downtrodden client, a lot of times you aren't routinely disrespected, as I mentioned here. But you just have to keep on treading through, you know, because the. Goal of having everybody be able to access the system, which again goes back to Solon and the 500 BC. You know, that's a very big value. That's what makes, you know, our country unique. And so it's a value that we all can share. The Commission is very good in making this one of our aspirations. Number six. Is practice with a personal commitment to the rules and encourage others to do the same. And so, you know, you can do several things with that, you know. You can have a situation where you're on a team and a firm or you're actually the whole firm is a team and you can encourage practice with personal commitment to the rules. You know, like if you're going to have a suit filed, one of the things that we did in one of my past firms was we actually sort of round tabled the suit. Other lawyers, besides the one that was about to file the suit roundtable, the suit to see if it was meritorious. And that was a good check on anybody doing anything crazy. You can speak at seminars you could commit to actually educating other people. And so you can speak on seminars and, you know, you can develop sort of a photographic memory about what these rules are. Some some more difficult situations might be. You know, if you have an opposing counsel who has ethical lapses, do you report them to the bar? I think it's very infrequent that that happens. Although I don't really have any basis for thinking that we don't have any statistics or anything, but it seems like we don't have as much of a commitment to bringing our opponents to account with the bar. And then. And as I said before, what you really need to do is to. Get real mastery over the rules yourself, because that's the only position. Only way you can position yourself to encourage others to follow the rules. Okay. Aspiration number seven. Is to preserve the dignity of the profession by my conduct. And so what you have to do in this situation is expect disagreement from opposing counsel. You need to learn. You know what? The court needs to control versus what you as an attorney have to control, like in discovery situations. One of the ways that you can have more influence on your opponents is to actually try to establish a personal relationship by, you know, like the first call that you have on a new case with an opposing counsel. You might try to set up drinks or lunch or something like that to try to develop some synergy between the two of you. That is, apart from the actual lawsuit. And that might actually really help because if you have that, the standard will be met and what you might take as an affront, you know, from a stranger would be. Quite different than what you might take as an affront from somebody that you have a real relationship with. Aspiration number eight. Is you going to be excellent to the point that you are a moral force in advocacy and counseling as a part of your work with clients. So what this is saying is, is that. If you get to the point where you're really, really good at the particular practice area that you're in, your advocacy and your counseling can actually work toward a result that's a societal good. And others might not consider your position morally pure, you know, but you have to go with what? Your instincts are concerning what's moral and. At the very least, you have to comply strictly with the rules to position your self as more. Um. Unfortunately, in the wake of this professionalism thing, you have sort of a buddy buddy professionalism that. Sort of Trump's compliance with the rules every time. And that's an unfortunate thing. Okay. So the next slide would be. Uh, that we're going to practice law as a calling in the spirit of public service and. You can see, as I've stated here, that dollars are celebrated and chased after relentlessly. So this would have to begin with me for this level of the practice of law as a calling and the spirit of public service is made more the reality. Okay. We also have a lawyer's creed. I'm going to go through this a little bit faster because I think I'm at the end. The lawyer's creed. We're going to offer faithfulness, competence, diligence and good judgment to the clients, to the opposing parties and their counsel, fairness, integrity and civility and seeking reconciliation. That's something that we really. Don't as a group of lawyers put forth because it sounds the way that it's worded there, that seeking reconciliation might be one of the first priorities in a conflict situation. But that doesn't seem to be the way that people approach it at the outset. It seems like the resolution. Uh, thoughts or wishes, you know, come way, way, way deeper into the conflict resolution to the courts. We offer respect, candor and courtesy. I will strive to do honor to the search for justice. I recommend that you get in court as much as you can. I have not actually been in court that much relatively in my first 42 years, but I've developed a system where I'm in court almost every day now, and you get a lot better at projecting respect, candor and courtesy if you're if the court situation is familiar to you. So I very strongly suggest that to my colleagues in the practice of law, offer concern for your welfare. I was trying to make our association a professional friendship that that would be really good if you could do that. You could do that through bar associations. You know, you can join with other people in other firms and potentially like write articles, that sort of thing. You could put on seminars. There's a lot of lot of things you could do. And if you have professional friendships that also results in referrals to the profession, you offer assistance to keep the business of profession and a calling in the spirit of public service. And so I think what this is saying is that you can choose some other sides, but the side you always want to choose is that our lawyering business is a profession and a calling in the spirit of public service to the public and our systems of justice. You offer service and you'll strive to improve the law and the legal system to make the law and our legal system available to all and to seek the common good through representation of the clients. So now here we'll go through these last slides very quickly, hitting the high notes of each one of the aspects of the Lewis Creed. Next slide. Okay. We have to have dedication to the clients cause. Um, and what that means is we take timely action on the client's case and we have freedom from outside or conflicting influences. You only take cases that you're equipped to handle and you. Uh, deliver good judgment. That's actually primarily what you're selling, particularly to the older you get in the profession, the more experience you have. That's pretty close to the top thing the client is purchasing and it actually funnels a lot of what you're supposed to deliver under the aspirations of the creed. What do you owe? Opposing parties and their counsel. Civility. Fairness and integrity. Integrity is the one with the more objective standard. What's civil and what's fair to a certain extent, demands context from how the other side is approaching you. But it also says that we should seek reconciliation. And actually, if you think about it, settlements are the most frequent outcome of any dispute. And so. You know, that's something we should always do. And then we want to have a dignified dispute if it's not settled. And that's extremely subjective. But you have to, you know, try to put your best foot forward and not worry about what the other side is doing in that regard. Okay. We have to learn to. Deliver every day in every court appearance and every brief that we file. Respect, candor and courtesy to the court and to their personnel. It is often said that the best way to lose is to be rude to the judge's staff. The lawyer offers to other lawyers concern for other lawyers welfare. And that is the case. As far as people providing seminars, There's a consistency that we need to have mental health support and wellness support and all that through the bar. So the bar is sort of the. Mechanism through which we're. Demonstrating our concern for other lawyers welfare. These days, we're going to have a professional friendship with fellow lawyers. And what is one problem is that. Outsiders can't get into. Establish friendships, professional friendships that people have. And so one of the things that you would want to do in as a participant in a group of professional friends is to be welcoming and to bring new people into the professional friendship so that you can benefit from the contributions that they can provide, as well as the people that who are already within the professional friendship. We offer the profession assistance as to having the business of law be perceived as a profession and a profession committed to public service. There's a question about what public service is. If there's a consensus on that. But the consensus would be that we want lawyers to have the respect of society because they are professionals who are committed to serving the public. The entire public, not just segments of the public, and that they're doing that through this 2500 year old system. To the public and the justice system. The lawyer offers service. The lawyer offers participation in making the legal system available to all. And. What we should be doing in respect to that. Besides questioning the denial of access to certain groups or individual plaintiffs, we should be participating in providing services even on a pro bono representation. And then to see the common good through the representation of my clients. This is a very difficult one to actually get results on. We hear a lot of times that the product liability lawyers, when they get verdicts that are massive, that it makes the manufacturers change their behavior. And so that creates a common good. We can also create a common good through class actions. But again, we have to develop our own perception of what the common good is and then work for that. Okay, So finally. What we should have done in response to the DuPont situation was highly increase the commitment to enforcement of the ethical rules that the profession has. Regular reports of ethical violations should have been encouraged and staffed. Instead, we're trained on these aspirations and the lawyer's creed. And so in the last 30 years, we've seen, in my opinion, less professionalism. And so what is missing primarily is personal relationships with opposing counsel. And in a city as big as Atlanta is, it's very difficult. That's a situation where most of the lawyers are anonymous to each other. And so, therefore, we have to take from this that we get out there and engage with lots of other lawyers, both lawyers who were opponents and lawyers who practice in completely different fields and practice areas so that we can provide the foundation necessary for the law to be practiced as a profession. So we thank you very much for listening to our presentation today. My contact information is on the web. If anyone would like to answer questions or have further discussions about the presentation that we've made here on the first page of the slides, both my email and phone number are there, so I'd love to talk to you if you'd like to talk further. Thank you very much for the opportunity to present.

Presenter(s)

CDJ
Charles Dalziel, JD
Principal
Dalziel Law Firm

Course materials

Handout

Credit information

Jurisdiction
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Available until
Status
Alabama
    Pending
    Alaska
    • 1.0 ethics
    August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
    Arizona
    • 1.0 professional responsibility
    August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
    Arkansas
    • 1.0 ethics
    August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
    California
    • 1.0 ethics
    August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
    Colorado
      Pending
      Connecticut
      • 1.0 ethics
      August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
      Delaware
        Pending
        District of Columbia
          Not Offered
          Florida
            Pending
            Georgia
            • 1.0 georgia professionalism
            December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST Approved
            Guam
            • 1.0 ethics
            August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
            Hawaii
            • 1.0 ethics
            August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
            Idaho
              Pending
              Illinois
                Pending
                Indiana
                  Pending
                  Iowa
                    Pending
                    Kansas
                      Pending
                      Kentucky
                        Pending
                        Louisiana
                          Pending
                          Maine
                            Pending
                            Maryland
                              Not Offered
                              Massachusetts
                                Not Offered
                                Michigan
                                  Not Offered
                                  Minnesota
                                    Pending
                                    Mississippi
                                      Pending
                                      Missouri
                                        Pending
                                        Montana
                                          Pending
                                          Nebraska
                                            Pending
                                            Nevada
                                              Pending
                                              New Hampshire
                                              • 1.0 ethics
                                              August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                              New Jersey
                                                Pending
                                                New Mexico
                                                  Pending
                                                  New York
                                                  • 1.0 ethics
                                                  August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                                  North Carolina
                                                    Pending
                                                    North Dakota
                                                    • 1.0 ethics
                                                    August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                    Ohio
                                                      Pending
                                                      Oklahoma
                                                        Pending
                                                        Oregon
                                                          Pending
                                                          Pennsylvania
                                                            Pending
                                                            Puerto Rico
                                                              Pending
                                                              Rhode Island
                                                                Pending
                                                                South Carolina
                                                                  Pending
                                                                  South Dakota
                                                                    Pending
                                                                    Tennessee
                                                                      Pending
                                                                      Texas
                                                                        Pending
                                                                        Utah
                                                                          Pending
                                                                          Vermont
                                                                          • 1.0 ethics
                                                                          August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                                                          Virginia
                                                                            Not Eligible
                                                                            Virgin Islands
                                                                            • 1.0 ethics
                                                                            August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Available
                                                                            Washington
                                                                              Pending
                                                                              West Virginia
                                                                                Not Eligible
                                                                                Wisconsin
                                                                                  Not Eligible
                                                                                  Wyoming
                                                                                    Pending
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                                                                                      August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Available
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                                                                                      Available until

                                                                                      August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Available
                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                      • 1.0 ethics
                                                                                      Available until

                                                                                      August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Approved
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                                                                                      • 1.0 ethics
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                                                                                      August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Approved
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                                                                                        • 1.0 ethics
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                                                                                        August 3, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

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                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Pending
                                                                                          Credits
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                                                                                            Not Offered
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                                                                                              Available until
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                                                                                              • 1.0 georgia professionalism
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                                                                                              December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                              Status
                                                                                              Approved
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