John Carroll, Dean of the Cumberland School of Law, makes sure students at the school understand fully the importance of being a lawyer and the obligations that they will have both in school and later in practice. John gave us permission to include a paper he gives to each new student when they enter the study of law at Cumberland. The following is the message John conveys to the students.
Lawyers Core Values
You today become a member of the legal profession. Membership in the legal profession:
• Is a privilege (that gives its members a monopoly on the provision of certain services and permits them to set the standards for entry into the profession);
• Carries obligations (to serve both one’s clients and the welfare of the greater community).
Among the obligations of being a member of the legal profession is adherence to certain core values that should define a lawyer’s behavior. These include integrity, service, competence and expertise, balance, and professionalism.
Starting today, you should begin to think about these core values and to display them in your actions as a law student, a lawyer, and a person. Throughout your career, you must continue to think about these values and how they relate to what it means to be a lawyer; and you should continue to develop them for the rest of your life.
Your application of these values will evolve as your career progresses and you take on different roles. Here are some quick thoughts on how they apply during your tenure as a law student here at Cumberland.
• BE HONEST & TRUSTWORTHY
o Always be truthful.
o Avoid the appearance of impropriety.
o Timely perform tasks you undertake and be present at meetings and events you say you will attend.
• SERVE OTHERS
o Engage in some service activity that benefits the community.
o Join a group that supports issues that are important to you and work to make a difference.
o Set a personal goal for a number of volunteer hours and achieve that goal.
• EMBRACE THE STUDY OF LAW
o Prepare diligently and thoroughly for class and other academic endeavors.
o Participate in discussions both in and outside of class with your professors and classmates.
o Join extracurricular activities that will enhance your understanding of the law and the profession (such as journals, competitions).
o Attend speaker programs and symposia.
• PRACTICE PROFESSIONALISM
o Respect others and the views of others.
o Take responsibility for your actions.
o Always take the high road.
o Take pride in your profession.
• FIND BALANCE
o Measure your success by more than your grades.
o Find time for family, friends, and pets.
o Do something that improves your well-being.
It’s real good to know that this message is conveyed to the students at Cumberland. It wouldn’t hurt for all practicing lawyers – young and old – to read what John had to say, especially the part on professionalism.
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