Lott & Fischer is an intellectual property law firm in Coral Gables, Florida. The firm concentrates its practice exclusively in intellectual property law, including U.S. and international patent, trademark, copyright, unfair competition, Internet, and entertainment law and related litigation.
New Admittees to Florida Bar
BOG Member Leslie Lott speaking on behalf of The Florida Bar
May 7, 2018
Chief Judge Rothenberg, Honorable Members of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Wolfson, colleagues, and parents, family, and friends of Florida’s newest lawyers -
On behalf of the over 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, it is my great pleasure to welcome these outstanding individuals to the practice of law.
This is an auspicious day. What happens this day will change the rest of your life. Today you join a truly noble profession. We are happy to have you as members of The Florida Bar.
You should take great pride in all of the accomplishments that have brought you to this point. We all know the tremendous effort it takes to complete law school and pass the bar exam. What a relief. Now you have arrived – and now – it gets serious.
Even though you have just now become lawyers – and most of you don’t yet have much in the way of experience or frame of reference for the practice, you are just as much a lawyer as all the rest of us, and your responsibilities as a professional are just as demanding as those of all of your other fellow lawyers.
You have the tools you need to fulfill those responsibilities. You have studied the law and you know how to find the answers. You have studied ethics, and in one way or another, you have observed the law in practice.
Just a word about the subject of ethics…as of today, this is no longer theoretical. You are personally responsible for the ethical decisions you make - regardless of what any client, or boss, or even judge tells you to do. The ethics you studied were not merely academic exercises. Every one of us faces decisions every day about how we will practice, what we will represent to others and how we behave. And as of today, you are solely responsible for those decisions. Make no mistake, every decision you make will either enhance your stature and your professional reputation or will diminish it. You know what to do. Do the right thing.
Another word of advice. Your oath of admission to The Florida Bar is something else that we take very seriously.
- “I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.”
These two documents form the framework for our entire social, cultural and governmental system; the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights, the fair and impartial administration of justice, the separation of powers. We, as lawyers, are the guardians of our country’s system of government
Almost 2,400 years ago Aristotle said:
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
- “I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers”
That also includes yourself, respect yourself, your fellow lawyers and your clients.
- “I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust”
The practice of law is not about winning at all costs; it is about justice and fairness. We have obligations to the court to disclose precedent that is unfavorable. We have obligations not to hide information or evidence, but to disclose them and to deal with them to the best of our abilities. We have obligations not to take unfair advantage of less knowledgeable or less experienced attorneys or their clients
Nor may we allow our clients to testify falsely or to allow false inferences by our omissions.
- “I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients”
Our clients trust us with the things that are most precious to them: their businesses, their money, their reputations, their homes, their families - in some cases, their very lives. Your overall guiding principle should always be “the client comes first.”
- “To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility”
- “I will abstain from all offensive personality.”
That can be a tough one – everyone is entitled to have a bad day, right? But it IS true that from now on, everything you do, everything you say, the way you present yourself, the way you dress, the way you drive, and most especially the way you treat other people will either enhance the profession you are now joining or will in some way lessen it. It is a big responsibility, but it is one we have all asked for and have willingly accepted.
- “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice. “
- “So help me God.”
It is a solemn oath. A knowing violation can subject attorneys to disbarment – and lawyers have been disbarred. But it is a great honor to be able to take this oath. You should each look at yourselves a little differently now. The rest of us do.
Enjoy your practice. It is the most demanding, the most fulfilling profession I can imagine. I wish you a long and rewarding career. May all your dreams come true.
And as a great man – former Bar President – Chesterfield Smith – used to say: