ABA Conference on Professional Responsibility: Inspiration and Hope

The conference wraps up today.  It has been a wonderful experience and there is much to report. I know lawyers are not known for talking about how they feel, but one of the advantages of being your own boss, as I essentially am, is that one enjoys a certain freedom to be oneself which is why I feel comfortable saying that based on what I have learned over the past two days (with an interesting Saturday morning session coming up), I feel inspired and hopeful. 

If I can manage, at a later time, to convey why I feel that way, I will.  But for now I’ll just point to three of the people at the conference who I found to be sources of inspiraton and hope:  Professor Geoffrey G. Hazard, Jr. ,winner of this year’s Michael Franck Award, Professor Angela Davis of American University Washington College of Law, a Harvard Law grad and formerly with the D.C. Public Defenders Service and Avis Buchannan, also a Harvard Law grad and currently head of the D.C. Public Defenders Service.

Even, and perhaps especially, after 29 years of practice, it is gift to be feel inspired by the examples set by other members of the profession.  In different ways, which I hope to explain briefly at a later date, Geoff Hazard, Angela Davis and Avis Buchannan are symbols of what we could do, of what the profession can do, to be of service in meaningful and creative ways.

Maybe that is why, for the second year in a row (this is only my second year of comming to the conference), the ABA Conference on Professional Responsibility is such a terrific event.  It is an opportunity to learn how to do better and why it is important to try.  The  conference re-enforces the possibility of a sense of community and that there can be important shared values among lawyers and judges, values that can improve not only the profession but also our individual lives.

Allan Gates, one of the presenters about whom more later, said something that resonnated with me:  Referring to legal ethics and doing the right thing he said, “It’s important to keep working at it.”  And so it is.