President’s Column - Consistency
Excellence is built on consistency. Accordingly, consistency has great value—a value often exceeding extraordinary achievement, exceptional accomplishment, or unpredictable brilliance.
I learned about consistency from my upbringing and my environment…my allies and my adversaries…my schooling, my university and my law school…my profession.
When I graduated from law school, passed the bar and embarked upon the practice of law, I witnessed consistency in various aspects of the legal profession, particularly the judiciary.
Our criminal and our civil judiciary may reside in different courthouses, preside over different courtrooms and apply different areas of the law, but they share a common and consistent thread of promoting and preserving the ideals of justice.
Consistency requires respect. I witnessed it as a young prosecutor, fresh out of law school, when during my first week on the job I was asked (told) to travel to a remote hamlet of a rural county to spend an afternoon prosecuting minor traffic offenses. Presumably, a rite of passage, of sorts. I was slightly offended, moderately nervous and very inexperienced. I was also keenly aware of the possibility of getting “home-towned.” To the contrary, the judge decided the cases before her in a fair and just fashion, but almost as importantly, she was respectful of me (the one-week-old, baby-prosecutor) and of each of the parties that came before her in her court. She treated all in her courtroom with respect, and her demeanor and sense of decorum made an impression upon me that resonates even to this day.
Consistency requires focus. I recalled it and would lean upon it when I was a more seasoned prosecutor, having “graduated” from misdemeanor offenses, and handling felony cases involving the most hardening, harrowing and heart-breaking of facts and circumstances. Amidst the chaos, confusion and contention that was my world, I trained myself to remain focused on my duty, which was to see that justice was done.
Consistency requires commitment. I relied upon it as an insurance defense lawyer, trying cases almost weekly, with a judge (and often a jury) attempting to sort out the facts and apply the facts to the law. I experienced it as a litigator in a large firm, where attorneys diligently represented clients in complex cases and judges read pleadings, analyzed briefs and determined issues that pertained to salient issues in these cases. I have watched judges treat legal disputes involving small dollar amounts with the same respect as those involving multi-million dollar litigants. Judges treated litigants in their courtrooms in a manner befitting of the courts.
When I became a solo and my practice later grew into a small firm, I experienced the feeling from the judiciary that my cases were just as important as those of the big-firm, tall-building lawyers.
Throughout most, if not all, of my criminal and civil jury trials, I have witnessed a judiciary with which I did not always agree, but which generally strives to uphold the Constitution, promote fairness and see that justice is done.
The common thread is consistency…not the consistency characterized by an aversion to change, but the consistency exhibited through constantly striving to fairly and impartially administer our laws while affording the courts, the parties and the judicial system the proper respect and decorum which they are due.
The proper administration of justice and a strong and respected judiciary are imperative to the preservation of our republic, and the continued evolution of our democratic society. Also imperative is a commitment to improving the profession and the community through education and service. The judiciary has consistently contributed to the cause of service, often through partnerships with bar associations.
I have had the invaluable opportunity to witness the relationship between the judiciary and our Dallas Bar Association for most of my professional legal career.
As a former Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, I have seen how the judiciary and the local bar association work together to provide continuing legal education to DBA members and to volunteer their time and talent to a variety of service projects throughout the area.
Ihave seen how the judiciary, the DBA and legal services work together to ensure Equal Access to Justice to our local citizens through legal clinics and services. The annual Equal Access to Justice Campaign is underway, with the objective of raising funds and friends to benefit pro bono legal services in Dallas County, and our local judiciary will play a pivotal role in not only promoting awareness of the need for pro bono service, but also in volunteering their time at legal clinics throughout Dallas County.
As a former Co-Chair of the DBA’s Bench Bar Conference, I have also witnessed the judiciary and the bar coming together at the annual Bench Bar Conference, with members of the judiciary providing helpful tips on everything from legal updates to how to practice in their respective courts. This year’s Bench Bar Conference will be held on September 27-29 at the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott. I encourage all of our members to attend and take advantage of this unique opportunity to network and to interact with colleagues, attorneys and judges in a relaxed setting.
Consistency also requires performance and repetition. Today, we enjoy a vibrant and consistent organization through Dallas Bar Association, as evidenced by its annual events, collaboration and high level of professionalism and service. For many years, the Dallas Bar has worked with the judiciary to promote a better profession, and the leaders of the DBA have played an integral role in the excellent relationship that the DBA shares with the judiciary. I, and many others, are the benefactors of a tradition of excellence and consistency through the Past Presidents of the Dallas Bar Association, and I strive to honor emulate them daily in my capacity as 2012 DBA President. In that regard, the DBA’s annual Past President’s Dinner will be held in September to honor the service of these great leaders of our organization, and to recognize their contributions to the organization that the DBA has become today.