More than preaching to the choir: Justice Richard N. Palmer takes on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

As with the organization itself there is more to the Connecticut Bar Association website than first meets the eye. For example, recently we found something of special interest just one click away from the site’s front page. On the front page there is an advertisement for a Bench-Bar Symposium Professionalism.  Behind that tired title we found a more interesting invitation: an announcement that Justice Richard N. Palmer will be taking on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse In Professionalism Today.

Using a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to announce a Bench-Bar Symposium on professionalism led by a Justice of our Supreme Court had the intended effect on us:  What the ______ are they talking about?  We didn’t remember the specifics about the Four Horsemen but we did recall they are powerful symbols of bad news, really bad news.  How bad?  Wikipedia filled us in: conquest, war, famine and death.  It seems to us that the Four Horsemen have been hard at work throughout the world.  Just turn on cable news.

The advertisement, although it used a gimmick to catch our attention, was not misleading. It made clear that Justice Palmer is not taking on THE Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  He will take on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse In Professionalism Today.  So this is personal.  Justice Palmer is not going to be talking about us (OBviously) but about the other guys in our profession, the guys whose careless, selfish, criminal, boorish, addicted behavior threatens our profession to such an extent that the advertisement for the symposium refers to the Apocalypse.

Who are the Four Horsemen Justice Palmer will focus on.  The advertisement tells us:  “The Defecating Defalcating Lawyer,(practice tip: be careful about meta data. If you don’t know what it is click here), The Impaired Lawyer, The Grievance-Prone Lawyer and The Internet Lawyer.”  We think one of the four descriptions is an example of euphemistic legalese that should be replaced by plain english:  instead of Defalcating Lawyer we suggest Miserable Thieving Bastard.

If our schedule permits, we will attend the Symposium for two reasons:  we believe the subject matter is important and we wish to support Justice Palmer’s welcome contribution to honor and to insist on professionalism in an age of hyper competitive, narrowly focused and in a growing number of cases desperate efforts either to keep making a great deal of money or to simply keep the lights on and appearances up.  Note to reader (if any): We are all in this together.  

Who attends seminars and symposia on legal ethics and professionalism?  We have often heard it said that the lawyers who attend are those who least need to.  We don’t agree with that assessment, at least not expressed that way.  We think ALL lawyers would benefit from attending such efforts at maintaining professional standards.  Among other things attendees go back to their firms or to their groups and talk about what they heard and what they learned. It may be that many of the lawyers who ought to attend seminars on legal ethics and professionalism don’t.  Perhaps they don’t want to be reminded of what they know but are trying to suppress:  that what they’ve done, are doing, or are thinking about doing is seriously wrong and that they need to address it in a responsible way asap.

We hope Beth Griffin of Lawyers Concerned For Lawyers will speak at the Symposium and that LCL brochures will be available.  No matter what a lawyer’s situation may be and even though the official resources for helping lawyers who are struggling are not what we wish they were, help of some kind from some source is available.  There are better choices.  Ask for help.  Someone will try to help.  The community of lawyers is much kinder and much more caring and much more professionally responsible than its public image sometimes suggests.

This bus has reached the end of the line.  We are the only ones left. At each stop (each new paragraph) people have gotten off.  We don’t blame them. We look forward to stepping off the bus onto what promises to be a beautiful Saturday.