In 1850 Abraham Lincoln propounded the following advice to new Law students “There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. This impression is common, almost universal. Let no young person choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief-resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be a honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be knave”.
Multiple academicians of law state that such moral directive is uncalled for in the course of a graduate program. Nevertheless, mostly the graduates of law school presently appear to be taking up the profession with a very vague sense of ethical responsibility towards the public. The commitment of lawyers to contribute for a social cause has been substituted by self-absorption and the covet for financial security.
So, what does being professional at school actually mean? And why do you need to ‘act’ professional if you are not working in a firm yet? For some, being professional might mean being well-dressed at school, for others it might mean having several other certifications. Effectively, professionalism is much more than interviews and etiquettes. It is an ideology that touches you at every stage of your career. If professionalism is deliberated at law schools, in terms of interaction with peers or your faculty you will be up skilled in being a professional attorney.
You are not assisting your chances of admission in a law school if you are not behaving professional with your admission personnel. At this point of time being professional means using proper e-mail formats, returning phone calls promptly, regular follow-ups and following appropriate interview decorum. On the elementary level, being professional in legal fields defines how you present yourself and the way you treat others.
Civil, Courteous, Gallant, Respectful, Honesty, Integrity and Accountability are the key words to describe professionalism. If you feel you are lagging in establishing yourself as a professional, there is still time. Professionalism is something you should have demonstrated in your past, something you could practice during your school of law and something you will need after your law school too.
There is a difference between being a professional and being a professional. The two are very conflicting. Being a professional demonstrates stuff like being qualified, practicing in a specific area. Having great expertise and deep knowledge and having a certain level of commitment. This is fundamentally about occupational identity or status.
Being professional on the other hand is about ones judgments, principles and ethics and how he chooses to practice and follow it.
You can start being a professional by making peace with your foes. If you feel you have been interacting casually with your professors and peers then make a conscious decision to approach them with professionalism. Understand that your school of law is granting you few years of invaluable and precious training to learn and practice the expertise you need to be an attorney.Nevertheless, these skills do require academic knowledge although being an attorney is a social profession!
SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR REPUTATION AND ESTEEM IN THE SCHOOL OF LAW
The impact you have on your peers and professors is crucial in your law school. A law school is not just few more years of college. You start creating your professional reputation since the first day of your college because your peers are your future colleagues. The time spent in the school should be used constructively in learning what you are required to know as an attorney and at the same time practicing to be one too. In the legal field, professionalism is all about how you present yourself. If you come across to be rude to someone, chances of retention of your obnoxious behavior in your victim’s heart and mind are high. He might as well go about talking about the same bitter incidence to everyone, and the chances are that later during your career you might have to encounter or share spaces with one of your colleagues who remembers you as a rude person, and that’s really not the stature you want to carry….Right?
INTERACTIN WITH THE ATTORNEYS
The basic professional behavior like your interview etiquette, the way you presented yourself in school, your reputation in school, instances of interactions with your peers and professors come back and around when you take your steps into your professional world. You should always have the experience of interacting with your attorneys before. You would have dealt with your professors in your law school for years. They might turn out to be your employers in the future. Your employers or your professors demand and appreciate certain standards in your behavior, in conjunction with meeting deadlines, effective communication, regular follow-up, taking initiative and so on.
Law school gives you an opportunity to exercise constructive discourse with everyone besides giving you the time to boost a positive reputation. As an attorney you are required to have a strong mind, visualize the problems and figure out the best solution, you are required to maintain your cool, think big, be confident during the tough times and be the strength of your teammates and clients during crisis. Take it seriously when your professors say they are treating you like a professional and expect you to think like one. When you are preparing for your exam or discussing a case study, imagine yourself doing so in the court of law. Think how you would react or behave before the justice or your fellow lawyers. You would may be adjust your tone, be more cautious and choose your words, keep your cool, square your posture and be courteous with respect to any disagreements. Organize your discussions in school similarly, make fact-based effective arguments, and be courteous and civil with your peers. Learn to handle inappropriate situations in tranquil without losing your cool.
Like the saying goes practice makes a man perfect. Practice is of paramount importance in any profession. And if you want to be a victorious professional, start practicing while you are in your school of law!