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Remarks by Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr.
Swearing-in Ceremony for New Attorneys
Connecticut Appellate Court
Thursday, October 27, 2005

 It is a pleasure to be among the first to congratulate you, the newest members of the bar. I extend a warm welcome to all of the relatives and guests of the new attorneys who are present here today. Perhaps it is appropriate that I, one of the newest members of the Appellate Court, deliver some remarks to you today. I am also pleased to be part of the very first admission ceremony here in our new courthouse.

You are now members of a noble and learned profession. The lawyer plays a vital role in our democratic republic, one that is not to be taken lightly. This republic was founded on an idea, that men and women are endowed with certain rights, and that the government is created to secure these rights. This is a nation of laws. It is the role of the lawyer to study, to understand and to guard those laws. When disputes cannot otherwise be resolved, your clients will call upon you to invoke the rights and privileges afforded by our constitution and our laws.
 

Biography of Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr.

Judges' Corner

Appellate Court Judges

It is vital to our democracy that citizens have confidence in the fairness and efficiency of our legal system. As a lawyer, your conduct plays a large role in inspiring or discouraging that confidence. Call to mind the oaths that each of you just swore or affirmed just a few moments ago. You are now an attorney and a commissioner of the Superior Court. You are a part of the system of justice in this state and you owe responsibilities to both your clients and the court.

We have an adversarial system of justice. That system is founded on the belief that heated and reasoned debate on an issue, a debate resolved by principled and fair judges, will lead to just outcomes. Your role as a zealous advocate requires you to explore all sides of an issue, to assert claims and defenses on behalf of your client and to act in conformity with your client's best interests. You are an advisor and an advocate to your clients - your representation enables them effectively to assert their legal rights. Although advocacy is your highest duty, you must always be mindful that your duty to the court requires you to adhere to the rules of professional conduct as you zealously assert your client's position.

I hope you will consider some advice from someone who has spent time on both sides of the bench. Do not forget that, in all of your activities as lawyer, you are also your own client.  We, as judges, understand and appreciate your role as an advocate just as we ask you to understand and appreciate our role in trying to resolve disputes in accordance with the law. But, you must keep in mind your duties to the court. Do not look lightly upon these obligations, for we, as judges, rely upon you to uphold the high ethical standards of your profession. Effective advocacy never excuses misstatements of law or fact to the court. I implore you to read and re-read the rules of professional conduct and diligently to follow the standards of conduct established by your profession.

Following our rules of conduct, however, is only a starting point for the truly exceptional lawyer who demonstrates civility and professionalism. Strive to create a reputation not as a fierce advocate who will go to any lengths to win the case, but one who acts with fairness and civility in advancing his or her client's position. As you begin your practice of law, you have the advantage of an unmarked reputation. Take care to build and protect your reputation over time, for it will be one of your greatest assets.

Practice civility in all of your professional activities. Civility is difficult to legislate, but easy to identify in practice. You probably did not learn about civility in your law school studies and there are no rules of civility to study. However, without civility, the character and integrity of our profession suffers and that is something that all of us as citizens, but even more so as attorneys, should pause to consider.

As you look at your fellow lawyers seated at your side today, recall that they, like you, will owe a duty to their clients. Although the courtroom might be viewed as a battleground for resolving legal disputes, your relationships with your fellow lawyers should not be marked by hostility. Civility is demonstrated in your interactions with any persons that you associate during the course of your workday, whether it be your client, your fellow lawyers, judges or court staff. It is seen in conduct and communication that reflects professional behavior, respect and courtesy. Demonstrate respect for the legal system. Do not use the procedures of the law for illegitimate purposes or to harass and intimidate others. Demonstrate respect for the judges, lawyers and public officials who serve the legal system.

Foster a high standard of professionalism and integrity, as well. Working hard for your client is not inconsistent with playing fair. If you demonstrate honesty, attorneys and judges will come to rely upon your representations. If you demonstrate qualities such as courtesy and punctuality, you will likely be shown the same. Set yourself apart from conduct that reflects rudeness, insulting behavior, obstructionist conduct and personal attacks. This type of conduct draws the ire of the court as well as payback from opposing counsel - it has no place in settling disputes in a court of law. Rely upon the force of your written word and your arguments to reflect your excellence and preparation.

I urge you to demonstrate advocacy to your clients, excellence in your professional work and civility. These attributes will constitute a professional reputation of which you can be proud and will serve both you and our profession well. Do not sell the honor that you have achieved today, or the reputation for integrity and character that you create in the years to come, for any client or any fee. Embark on your career with a sense of pride and humility. Endeavor to make a mark on our profession so as to restore it to a place of esteem in our society. By doing so, you will encourage others to view our profession, and its honored place in our system of government, with respect.

I would like to give you a little more advice, advice of a more personal nature. Take pride in the fact that, in becoming an attorney, you have accomplished something that is difficult to obtain and is truly special. Look back upon the sacrifices that are common to each of us who has become a member of the bar. You have spent countless hours studying the law, both during law school and in preparation for the bar examination. Besides the investment of your time, you have invested considerable finances, effort and, need I say, angst, in achieving your goal. Take a moment to appreciate your own efforts and to realize that hard work and determination has brought you to this day.

Take a moment to think about your family, your loved ones and your friends, whether they are joining you at this ceremony or not. Thank those who have helped you grow, who have given you emotional support, financial support or have perhaps encouraged you to stick with it during your legal education and in preparation for the bar examination. Think about what your accomplishment means to them. Becoming an attorney is a milestone in your life, and your achievement is undoubtedly a source of genuine pride for those who have supported you, as well it should be. Celebrate this special day with your loved ones in some way, for it is one of those truly happy occasions that, unfortunately, are few and far between in life.

On behalf of all of my colleagues on the Appellate Court, I wish you much success in your career in the practice of law. Congratulations.
 

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