Welcome to Friday!
“202” is palindromic number. It reminds me that, in life, opposite extremes often share more similarities than differences.
There’s a saying: “Virtue in the middle.” This morning, unable to recall its source, I resorted to my trusty google machine. It appears that the saying derives from Greek philosophy. Apparently I didn’t pay close enough attention in my Western Civ class at Boston College.*
*BC is not only where I started before transferring to UVM, it’s where I suffered my college football injury.
Leaving a discourse on Aristotelian theory for another day, here’s another saying:
“‘Virtue in the middle,’ said the Devil as he sat down between two lawyers.”
It makes me laugh. Also, I’m fairly certain it’ll make my father laugh even harder than the day he asked me “what do you call 300 lawyers at the bottom of Lake Champlain?” And that’s the hardest I’ve ever seen him laugh.
Okay, I’m official rambling. So, here’s my point: when it comes to legal ethics and professional responsibility, we should NOT flatten the curve. By that I mean this:
In case you just got back from Jupiter, here’s an image that’s been a topic of recent discussion:
Actually, I lied. That’s an ordinary Bell Curve. So sue me.
Anyhow, my 22 years in the Professional Responsibility Program have taught me this: when it comes to legal ethics, the curve applies, but in a completely different way than it is almost always used. With legal ethics and professional responsibility, the curve’s middle isn’t average, and one extreme is no better or worse than the other.
Rather, when it comes to legal ethics and professional responsibility, at one extreme, we find the bumblers who have no idea what they’re doing. At the other, those who intentionally cross the line. More similar than different, they’re equally bad. Fortunately, not many occupy the extremes, with the bulk of us making up the population that resides in the middle.
More importantly, and again referring to legal ethics and professional responsibility, my experience has been that lawyers aren’t static points on a graph. You are thoughtful, caring humans who consciously strive to live as close to the middle as possible. I love that about you. Because, in the middle, and unlike the Bell Curve, you are far more than “average.” No, in the middle, the curve provides space to stand tall and proud. Again, I stress, in my experience that’s where 99% of you not only try to be, but are.
Still, some of us inhabit the extremes. A problem with living at the extremes is that there’s not much room to stand. Instead, you have to slither around like a snake. Perhaps garden variety & harmless, or maybe venomous and deadly. Regardless, more similar than different, snakes that slither.
Don’t be a snake. Stand tall and proud with the rest of us.
Virtue lies in the middle.
That’s what 202 reminds me of.
Onto the quiz.
- None. Open book, open search engine, text-a-friend.
- Exception: Question 5. We try to play that one honest.
- Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
- Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
- E-mail answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
- Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
- Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
- Share on social media. Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday
A friend of mine dropped off some syrup last night. And I hadn’t done anything to deserve it! But it made me think of this question:
True or false? The rules specifically prohibit lawyers from bartering for legal services.
Most of the Rules of Professional Conduct apply generally, regardless of practice area. However, there’s a one rule that specifically addresses the “special responsibilities” of ________:
- A. Bar Counsel.
- B. Insurance Defense Lawyers
- C. Probate Lawyers
- D. Prosecutors
Attorney represents Client. Having good cause to do so, Attorney moves to withdraw from the representation. The motion is denied, and the trial court orders Attorney to continue to represent Client. By rule, ______:
- A. the trial court must certify an interlocutory appeal.
- B. Attorney must request reconsideration and, if denied, immediately appeal.
- C. Attorney shall continue to represent Client.
- D. disobeying the trial court’s order is not an ethics violation.
Sole Practitioner called me with an inquiry. I listened, then shared my thoughts. I added “by the way, I have no idea why, but there’s actually a rule that says if you do, you have to cease the private practice of law in the geographic area in which you’ve practiced.”
If you do . . .what?
- A. Get elected to the Legislature.
- B. Plead guilty to a crime.
- C. Get licensed in another profession.
- D. Sell your law practice.
Speaking of the Devil . . .
Jabez Stone was a New England farmer who fell upon hard times. In exchange for 7 years of prosperity, Stone sold his soul to Mr. Scratch. When Mr. Scratch sought to enforce the contract, Stone retained a lawyer. A famous trial ensued.
Name the lawyer who represented Stone.