What are the highest standards of the legal profession?

So as you guys know, I start law school in September and I just found out that I got an entrance scholarship, which was a gift from God because I was still working out the financing and was planning to get loans rather than rely on my parents, so this greatly reduces my debt load. It was a surprise because to be eligible for a scholarship, you were supposed to write the LSAT (entrance exam) in early September 2007. Well, JJ was barely 6 weeks old then and I hadn't decided what I was going to do, so I wrote in December, which made me eligible for acceptance but not entrance awards. (I can still apply for bursaries, which I also plan to do.) Then I just got an e-mail yesterday saying that since my LSAT and grades were good, they have decided to make me an award anyway! BUT in order to get it, I have to send them forms and information by next Friday, which include a 250 word statement describing my "personal characteristics that are associated with the highest standards of the legal profession." There are awards of different amounts and I gather that the more impressive statements can get you more $$$$$.

I thought I would start by brainstorming what the highest standards of the legal profession are and what some positive personal characteristics would be, so I am curious as to what others think. What are positive (or negative) traits that lawyers should (or shouldn't) have? What are personal characteristics that people in general should have and how do they relate to those for lawyers? I'm finding it's easier for me to say what a lawyer should not be like and what I don't want to be like than what a lawyer should be like. But I also don't want to sound cheesy or insincere or cliched - I want my statement to stand out.

TIA!
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Congratulations on the Scholarship!!
3a/b, CG mostly.
Mexico City.
i don't know anything about law school, so i'm afraid i can' t help you with that part, but i also wanted to say congratulations!!
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I think honesty and integrity are givens. Seems to me however that in the legal profession, there has to be a passion that may not be needed in every profession. There are things that an attorney may have see or hear that could be unsettling yet advocate for the best result for his or her client.
From family law to corporate law to criminal law, an attorney has to feel the need of the client in order to represent the client. Walking a tightrope, he or she has to 'be' the client while being the law abiding advocate. Integrity, honesty, and passion will keep the person from crossing the line.
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I thought I would start by brainstorming what the highest standards of the legal profession are and what some positive personal characteristics would be, so I am curious as to what others think. What are positive (or negative) traits that lawyers should (or shouldn't) have? What are personal characteristics that people in general should have and how do they relate to those for lawyers? I'm finding it's easier for me to say what a lawyer should not be like and what I don't want to be like than what a lawyer should be like. But I also don't want to sound cheesy or insincere or cliched - I want my statement to stand out. TIA!
Originally Posted by Amneris
to me, characteristics of a good lawyer (and of people in general):

1. integrity
2. compassionate
3. patient
4. humble
5. professional
6. ethical
7. good communicator (can translate legal jargon in lay terms without sounding condescending to client)
8. respectful
9. intuitive (can sense clients' concerns without them saying anything)
10. fair
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Not sure if this would work, but do you have an idea of the type of law you would like to specialize in? Maybe you could write the letter from that stance?

Not sure if that would work, but good luck and congrats!
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What a gift indeed!

Good luck with your statement!
Personally, I think that integrity and ethics are the most important traits when it comes to the law.
Not sure if this would work, but do you have an idea of the type of law you would like to specialize in? Maybe you could write the letter from that stance?

Not sure if that would work, but good luck and congrats!
Originally Posted by CurlyCanadian
Thanks! I actually just had that thought - I'm interested in international/war crimes/human rights/civil rights law and eventually the judiciary, and I was thinking of relating that to my family history. An alternative is family law, which relates to my love of children.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











A passion for justice.

The desire to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
formerly Castella
(my dogs aren't snarly, my hair is)
A passion for justice.

The desire to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Originally Posted by Castella

I LOVE these. All the suggestions so far are helpful. Thanks!

eta: I'm trying to figure out how to briefly articulate the connection between a nation fighting for and achieving its independence and the law, esp. international law. Any ideas?
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali












Last edited by Amneris; 08-15-2008 at 11:54 AM.
I agree with the posts of Myradella and Rainshower.

Congratulations Amneris and Good Luck!
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

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(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)
I've been practicing for nine years. IMO, the highest standards are to maintain integrity, honesty, and ethics in the face of defeat, humiliation, embarrassment, financial detriment, or personal hardship. In other words, you fulfill your ethical obligations even when it isn't what's easy, popular, or in line with your personal beliefs.

ETA: Congratulations on the scholarship and good luck! I'm sure you'll be great.
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No silicones/no sulfates since March 2008
congratulations!! i think honoring a client's confidentiality is one of the most important things a lawyer could do. the best lawyers i know are good for different reasons - compassion and commitment for the public interest folks. voracious appetite for a good fight and intellectual curiosity for all. i don't think you have a lot of space to do this - but specific examples about how you have shown a couple of these characteristics will go a long way.
[
Thanks! I actually just had that thought - I'm interested in international/war crimes/human rights/civil rights law and eventually the judiciary, and I was thinking of relating that to my family history. An alternative is family law, which relates to my love of children.
Originally Posted by Amneris
this is an excellent idea--it will humanize you & crystallize why you want to go into law. from your posts, you're very passionate & express yourself & your points well, so i am sure that will come across.

congrats on the scholarship--and good luck!
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Having worked for lawyers for years (previously), there's little I can add to the above comments, but from what I observed on a daily, personal basis, honesty, ethics, and the preservation of client dignity are VITAL. Doing one's best for every client, whether pro bono or on retainer, says so much about an attorney's character.

Here is a quick story illustrating the above:
My former boss, now deceased, was the legal guardian of a severely disabled child. As both the child's guardian and his trustee, my boss was entitled to two annual fees from the child's estate. He refused this double pay out, stating that taking more than a fair fee for the work he did defeated the purpose of having won a large enough cash settlement to provide for the child's ongoing care. I really respected him for that. And frankly, a lawyer who has her/his staff's respect is a rare privilege indeed, I'm sorry to say.
A lack of bias, or at least the ability to do one's best to not allow it to interfere with good judgement and reasoning.

Knowing what one's work is worth, both financially-speaking, AND in a non-tangible sense. Obviously being driven by the prospect of money-making (capitalism), but not being swayed by the prospect of money-making (not being able to be 'bought').
So as you guys know, I start law school in September and I just found out that I got an entrance scholarship, which was a gift from God because I was still working out the financing and was planning to get loans rather than rely on my parents, so this greatly reduces my debt load. It was a surprise because to be eligible for a scholarship, you were supposed to write the LSAT (entrance exam) in early September 2007. Well, JJ was barely 6 weeks old then and I hadn't decided what I was going to do, so I wrote in December, which made me eligible for acceptance but not entrance awards. (I can still apply for bursaries, which I also plan to do.) Then I just got an e-mail yesterday saying that since my LSAT and grades were good, they have decided to make me an award anyway! BUT in order to get it, I have to send them forms and information by next Friday, which include a 250 word statement describing my "personal characteristics that are associated with the highest standards of the legal profession." There are awards of different amounts and I gather that the more impressive statements can get you more $$$$$.

I thought I would start by brainstorming what the highest standards of the legal profession are and what some positive personal characteristics would be, so I am curious as to what others think. What are positive (or negative) traits that lawyers should (or shouldn't) have? What are personal characteristics that people in general should have and how do they relate to those for lawyers? I'm finding it's easier for me to say what a lawyer should not be like and what I don't want to be like than what a lawyer should be like. But I also don't want to sound cheesy or insincere or cliched - I want my statement to stand out.

TIA!
Originally Posted by Amneris

Firstly, HUGE congrats on your acceptance and scholarship! I'm a barred (nonpracticing) attorney, and I think you've gotten some fabulous responses from other posters. I would definitely say that well-developed ethics, respect for our system of law, compassion for the people you serve, meticulous attention to detail, and a strong sense of humility are key traits. Patience, civility and honor are good ones as well. Should actually be a pretty fun essay to write!

And not to be Debbie Downer, because I think your professional aspirations are wonderful, but have you actually spoken to your career services office about how many students they've managed to place into positions involving the type of work you want to do? Those opportunites are *very* few and far between, and you may find yourself in a financial position where you need to take a job at a big law firm and do that type of work on the side (pro bono through your firm).

Now you may already know this, but lots of people don't, so that's why I'm saying this- I definitely don't mean to be patronizing, or suggest that you haven't done your homework or anything like that....But, true story as told to me by our utterly worthless Career Services Director....at my school, there was a woman who was a GREAT student- awesome grades, on law review, lots of activities. She marched into the office one day and declared that she wanted to practice environmental law at a big law firm (thanks to those BIG loans she had to take out), and she was devasted when she learned that the only type of "environmental" work that big law firms do is on the "wrong" side- meaning they defend the corporations doing harm to our environment. Our Director had to explain this to her, and said, "Well do you think the Environment is going to walk into a big NY firm and say "Here's a check, please represent my interests??"

Sad, but true. And since she was in no position to actually chase her dreams, she ended up taking a big firm job and doing general corporate work.

OK, so storytime is over . Like I said, I wish you well, and I do hope that you are able to do everything you want to do, but be careful. It is not a decision that can be undone....as I'm learning.

Last edited by Mojo Riley; 08-15-2008 at 04:37 PM. Reason: to clrify
For me, the highest standards would include using one's own ideas for their essays.
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For me, the highest standards would include using one's own ideas for their essays.
Originally Posted by geeky

Awww, there's nothing wrong with collaboration and brainstorming for ideas!

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