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Legal Ease: A higher standard becoming of you

Having the great fortune of being able to contribute to SDGLN, I often find myself contemplating what to write, what legal hints and advice should be dispersed to the community, and what would be a benefit to readers.

In my everyday life I deal with all types of people…your common criminal, a good person who had a bad night, people wanting to suck the life and money out of others, and most often people who just need help. Attorneys get calls from friends and family seeking their professional advice. Yet, what has always struck me as odd throughout my legal education and career is the stigma that attorneys carry.

Attorneys are generally disliked, considered unethical, ruthless and callous. Polls and surveys show that attorneys are viewed as some of the most disliked people. It is commonly believed that attorneys will do anything to make a buck and don’t care who gets screwed along the way. I propose that lawyers aren’t all that horrendous and that this is still a noble and honorable profession.

Few professions are held to a higher code of conduct, professionally and personally. They would include attorneys, doctors and clergy. To practice these professions, we must take an oath to uphold certain laws and codes. Attorneys must comply with the rules of ethics outlined by Professional Rules of Responsibility and the American Bar Association. We must take an ethics course, submit a 30-page moral-character application, have a background check, and pass a professional responsibility exam before we are allowed to practice. These obligations and duties do not stop when we leave the office. Unlike most professions, what happens in our personal life can also affect our career.

Some attorneys do not uphold these standards in their professional or personal lives. Money-hungry, unethical and immoral people can be found in all professions. However, as a whole, attorneys and judges hold themselves to these commitments. Frankly, we don’t want to lose our license before we pay off our student loans.

So maybe the next time you think poorly of attorneys, think of the oath they took, put yourself in their clients’ shoes, and contemplate how an oath you took for your job would affect your personal life. I think the community, Pride board members, CEOs, business owners and others could learn something from those who take an ethical oath. Maybe we could all take an oath to uphold the laws of decency, to treat each other with kindness, and to respect one another. As individuals we should hold ourselves to our highest standards.

Alexis graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2007. In law school she served as Student Body President, Public Relations Director for OUTLaw, and competing member of the Mock Trial team. Upon graduating she accepted an associate position with Anthony J. Solare and was recently named partner. At Solare & Scott they provide legal services focusing on criminal defense – including juvenile and military cases, family law, and civil litigation. A true believer in justice and equality Alexis hopes to influence positive change in our legal and political system. You can contact Alexis at 619.234.7575 or online at SolareandScott.com.