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New Florida Lawyers – Can we Talk?

I attended the 5th DCA swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, May 8 and The President of The Florida Bar, Scott Hawkins, asked me to address the group on his behalf.  It is a job I took very seriously for a profession I hold near and dear to my heart.  (This became painfully evident as I inappropriately and surprisingly welled up with emotion during my last swearing-in address.)

The messages I hoped to deliver are  very simple.

1) It takes a village.
It took a village to get you where you are today and it will take a village for you to achieve success in your chosen profession.

2) Be nice to your village.
Thank those who helped get you where you are.  Call a few clients every day just because - they will be shocked that you called just to check in on them.  Remember too that your clients and potential clients are watching you wherever you are; on the side-lines at your child’s soccer game, in the check-out line at Lowes and in your doctor’s office where you have been waiting for hours.  They are watching to see how the attorney they know conducts himself/herself  - make us proud!

3) Don’t litter in your village.
Be courteous to your colleagues.  Return their calls – THE SAME DAY.  Copy opposing counsel with your pleadings – PRIOR TO 5:30 VIA FAX THE NIGHT BEFORE THE HEARING.  Before you fire off the nasty-gram email, wait 24 hours and see if that is really the tone you want to take.

4) Respect the village elders.
OK, I may be stretching the analogy a bit here but for the love of Pete, please find a mentor.  Choose carefully.  Don’t choose the local pitbull.  Choose the well-respected, experienced litigator who quietly wins his or her cases without fanfare.  They will teach you their philosophies on work and the world and how to get along in both.  They will teach you how to write.  They will teach you your way around a courtroom.  They will teach you how to respectfully attract and keep clients.  They will teach you how to win and lose with grace and dignity.

And as I went off to deliver my speech – yes, I packed my tissues.

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