* Human rights Charter of Cyrus , the Great Ancient King of Iran
* Regulation of the Lawyer Profession and the Duties and Functions
of the Lawyer Organisations in Germany Bar Association
* A point of tort law
* Radical Changes Lie Ahead For Afghan Lawyers
* Building Your Reputation!
* Doing the Right Thing
* Human rights Charter of Cyrus , the Great Ancient King of Iran
The Human Rights Charter of Cyrus, the great ancient king of Iran was issued in 539 B.C. following the conquest of Babylonia. It was declared by Cyrus on the first day of spring when his coronation took place in Babylonia. After his coronation he went to Mardouk Temple of the great god and declared the Charter.
According to some experts specialized in Islamic knowledge Zolgharnain named in the holy Quran is probably the same as Cyrus. Needless to say, however, that Cyrus has issued and enforced the best and greatest declaration of human rights in the early history of the world. Yet, it should be recalled that Mazhiran Mole, Hertsfield and girshman state in their book, Eternal Land that the Cyrus Declaration issued about 2543 years ago is much better than human rights declaration of the French Revolution of the 17th century and the United Nations Declaration of the 20th Century.
A full description of Cyrus coronation and the events thereafter is recorded by Gezenfone, the Greek military officer, philosopher and historian.
The text of Cyrus declaration was not known until recent excavation made in Mesopotamia under the old ruins of the city of Oor where an epigraph was discovered and after it was translated it was found to be the human rights charter of Cyrus. This inscription which is the oldest and the most important document of the human rights in the ancient history, is now kept in the British National Library. In that declaration, Syrus first introduces himself and then, as the king of Iran, Babylonia and the four cardinal countries pronounces the charter of the human rights.
Text of the Charter of Human Rights of Cyrus
Now that with the grace of Mazda I am crowned for the kingdom of Iran, Babylonia and the four cardinal countries, I declare that:
As long as I am alive and favored by Mazda for the kingdom of Iran, Babylonia and the four cardinal countries, I undertake to honor the religion and custom of all nations under my kingdom. Thus, no governor or other subordinates under my realm shall be allowed to humiliate or insult the religion or custom of the nations under my kingdom or of other nations.
From now, that I am crowned, until I am alive and blessed by Mazda for this kingdom, I shall never impose my kingdom to any nation, since the people are free to accept or be no war against them.
As long as I am the king of Iran, Babylonia and the four cardinal countries, I shall not allow any one to oppress another. So, if anybodyĎs right is injured, I shall take it from the oppressor and punish him and shall give it back to the oppressed.
As long as I live, I shall not allow anyone to dispossess othersĎ property by force or take it without consideration or satisfaction of the owner.
As long as I live, I shall not allow anyone to use forced or unpaid labor.
Today I announce that everybody is free to choose any religion he believes in, and live any where he desires, provided he does not arrogate othersĎ rights, and take any occupation he likes, and spend his property in any way he decides, providing he does not harm othersĎ rights.
I declare that every person is responsible for himself, and that no one shall be punished for actions committed by his relatives. Thus, punishment of the criminalĎs brother is forbidden. If a member of a family or tribe committed a crime, the person to be punished should be only the criminal, not others.
So long as, with the grace of Mazda, I rule as the king, I shall not allow any man or woman to be sold as a slave. In this regard, my governors and other subordinates shall be responsible, in the sphere of their influence, to prevent the trade of slavery. This custom should be totally abolished throughout the world.
And, I beg Mazda to succeed me in performing the obligations I have taken towards the nations of Iran, Babylonia and the nations of the four cardinal countries.
* Regulation of the Lawyer Profession and the Duties and Functions
of the Lawyer Organisations in Germany Bar Association
In Germany, the lawyer profession and its position within the state and society are anchored in the Constitution (Basic Law) and comprehensively regulated by federal statute (parliamentary law).
I. The German Lawyersí Act
The German Lawyersí Act (Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung; ďBRAOĒ), a parliamentary law, regulates the lawyer profession in detail. The BRAO conceives the lawyer profession as a liberal profession, where lawyers are completely independent of state influence (free legal practice) in their work. The right of lawyers to represent citizens in all legal matters can only be limited by federal law.
The prerequisites for the profession and access thereto are strictly regulated by statute. In the interest of the public good and the maintenance of ordered administration of justice, a lawyer is subject to statutorily established duties of independence, confidentiality, avoidance of conflicts of interest, and performance of objective and competent work. Intrusion by the state upon the lawyerís substantive work is impermissible. Corrections to the lawyerís substantive work are only possible through legal channels by the respective court.
In addition, the professional liability of lawyers is regulated by statute, as is their cooperation with other professions and the obligation for compensation to be settled on the basis of a statutory fee regulation.
A breach of any of these duties by a lawyer will be punished. Initially, the regional bar to which the lawyer belongs makes a decision regarding this and thereafter there is special jurisdiction, which is a part of state jurisdiction.
The regulations set forth in the German Lawyersí Act (BRAO) for the lawyer profession are exclusively subject to parliamentary disposition. Those belonging to the profession and their organisations have no authority to set standards.
Since 1994 a special organisation of lawyers called the ďRegulations AssemblyĒ (Satzungsversammlung) (ßß 191a et seq. BRAO), which is legitimated by democratic elections, has been allowed to concretise the statutory provisions for regulation of the lawyer profession. There is a narrowly drawn, exclusive list for this. The resolutions of the ďRegulations AssemblyĒ, which must be approved by a qualified majority, are expressed in the regulation regarding the profession. The provisions of the regulation regarding the profession are not allowed to establish any (new) professional obligations, but rather, only more specifically formulate the statutory rules in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by the legislature as discernible from the law. The resolutions of the ďRegulations AssemblyĒ and the provisions of the regulation regarding the profession are examined by the Federal Ministry of Justice for their compatibility with the law and the Constitution. The Ministry can rescind resolutions by the ďRegulations AssemblyĒ through administrative act. Despite this possibility for control, many provisions in the professional regulation have been rescinded by the Federal Constitutional Court upon complaints by individual lawyers of violations of the law and the Constitution.
II. The regional bars
The implementation of the lawyer professional law standardised in the BRAO is an original task of the state, which is usually accomplished by state administration and the establishment of specific authorities necessary therefor. The state could, therefore, implement the rules applicable to lawyers through the federal and state justice administrations (direct state administration). However, the German legislature has not taken this path, but rather, in consideration of the tradition established in German law, the implementation and application of the law affecting lawyers has been transferred to a particular authority (Rechtsanwaltskammer; regional bar), which are staffed by members of the profession.
In the Federal Republic there are 28 regional bars. The regional bars are set up as public law corporations and function as indirect state administration. The regional bars are subject to state supervisory authority, which monitors whether and how they fulfill their duties.
It is continuous objective of such organisation of matters regarding lawyers to make the expert knowledge of members of the profession profitable for the purposes of state administration.
As with all state administration, regulation of the lawyer profession must be in the interests of the public good. Consequently, the regulation of lawyers may only impose those limitations that are based upon reasonable interests of the public good. The courts, and ultimately, the Federal Constitutional Court, decide on disputes, because the regulation of professions affects Article 12 of the Constitution (freedom of profession).
Upon admission, each lawyer is necessarily a member of the regional bar responsible for his business, in the form of compulsory membership. The members of the regional bar elect the bar organs and, in the context of the statutory provisions, pass resolutions, and implement necessary measures. To this extent, they have their own budget and the right to collect membership dues.
The tasks of the regional bars are described and limited in detail by the BRAO. In addition to tasks that affect the organisation and the budget, their tasks primarily involve exercise of disciplinary supervision over lawyers and consulting with and instructing them on professional law matters. Only the regional bars have disciplinary authority. In addition, the regional bars have a duty to participate in the staffing of lawyer courts, as well as lawyer training by naming lawyers suitable for providing training. The regional bars are also responsible for the training of office personnel. Further, it is their task to provide expert opinions on questions presented by state authorities and ministries that affect the regional bars.
The principle of individual authorisations applies. This means that the regional bars only fulfill those tasks that are transferred to them by law and not simply those that for some reason also prove to be useful for lawyers. The principle of implied powers known in the law of international organisations, which can lead to expansion of tasks, explicitly does not apply.
III. The German Federal Bar Ė BRAK
The 28 regional bars themselves are amalgamated at the federal level into the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer; ďBRAKĒ) in the form of compulsory membership. The BRAK is also a public law corporation.
The BRAK must fulfill the tasks allocated to it by law. These include, among others, in particular:
in questions that affect all of the regional bars, ascertaining the opinions of the individual bars and establishing the majority opinion through common discussion;
in all matters that affect all of the regional bars, presenting the opinion of the German Federal Bar to the competent authorities, courts, and organisations and to represent all regional bars to these institutions.
The above-mentioned ďRegulations AssemblyĒ is set up within the German Federal Bar. The president of the German Federal Bar and the presidents of the regional bars are non-voting members of the ďRegulations AssemblyĒ and the lawyers chosen by the members of the regional bars serve as voting members.
The German Federal Bar does not have a right to collect membership dues, but rather, is financed from the dues of the regional bars. The German Federal Bar is neither democratically legitimated nor are the individual lawyers, as members of the regional bars, members of the German Federal Bar.
The representation of the economic, political and professional interests of lawyers vis-ŗ-vis society, politics, and the state, are not among the tasks specifically enumerated for the regional bars and the German Federal Bar.
IV. The German Bar Association Ė DAV
The representation of the economic, political and professional interests of lawyers vis-ŗ-vis society, politics, and the state, is the object and task of the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein; ďDAVĒ), its state associations, and its local associations. The bar association is the independent lobbying organisation of the German lawyer profession, democratically legitimated by voluntary membership.
There are 243 local bar associations combined to form the German Bar Association. Any admitted lawyer may become a member of his local bar association. Membership in the local bar association, in contrast to the compulsory membership in the regional bars, is voluntary. Each local bar association elects a managing board by its members.
The local bar associations participate in the formulation of opinions of the German Bar Association through the membership meeting, in which each has a seat and a number of votes that varies according to size. The membership meeting of the DAV elects the members of the managing board, approves the annual accounts, establishes the membership dues, and is the highest decision-making organ of the association.
The managing board elected by the membership meeting is comprised of 27 members, each of whom must be a member of a local bar association. The managing board of the German Bar Association is responsible for all matters pertaining to the association, except for those that have been transferred to the membership meeting or other organs of the association. The managing board may transfer additional tasks to the president and the presidium.
The president represents the association and manages the day-to-day business. He leads the membership meeting, the managing board and presidium meetings, and makes decisions on all urgent matters. The presidium administers the associationís assets, finances, and investments and prepares the managing board meetings.
Financing of the German Bar Association takes places through dues, which the local bar associations must pay to the DAV for each of its members.
Berlin, 14 July 2004
Dr. Dierk Mattik (signed)
* A point of tort law
By: Azim Dezfuli_ attorney at law
We are living in the circle of the dangers arising out of social life. There is no difference we tend to which theory, individualism or gregariousness. The fact is that we are living in a society and thus we, willfully or forcibly have entered in a complicated system that we enjoy its benefits and at the same time expose to its dangers.
The members of a society have duties and undertakings before the society and in return the society has duties and responsibilities before its members. Asking a new address or helping a person need our help is an example of social interaction.
As human beings we have responsibilities and we are bound to fulfill these responsibilities and we except the other people to fulfill and execute these responsibilities. But these issues are in the scope of moralities. In these conditions we have only moral responsibilities; but in some cases these responsibilities shape another forms. For example the responsibility to help those who injured in driving accidents, under special conditions, can set beyond the scope of moralities and enter in the limits of legal responsibilities. Failure to respect such responsibilities, may, in some circumstances, constitute penal consequences for defaulter, so it is evident that man by living in a society with believing any idea, the realities of life govern on him and he is obliged to obey those realities whether likes them or not. Obeying these realities, most of the times, has no negative aspects, on the contrary has positive aspects.
Establishing a secure environment and preventing from violation of the rules deals with provision of security of society constitute appropriate environment for progress of human virtues. For continuing to live, the society needs order and organization. Order establishes social security in the general meaning. Security prepares the ground and directs him to reach to progress and loftiness.
In the ancient times, by enjoying the benefits of social life, man could control the dangers threatened his life and at the present time he is able to continue and guarantee his living by relying on modern and complicated rules and regulations.
Since the beginning of Creation man needs a place for rest and sleep. The issue of construction shelter and its equipment has a long record in the history of human beings. But nowadays the construction is not used only as a place for resting and sleeping and we pass more of our times in the buildings, the buildings use for the places of our business and the centers for our educational activities. The needs of man for various kinds of buildings have caused the occupations of architectural engineering and civil engineering has been recognized as independent crafts sine the old days. These occupations are under government of the strict rules and regulations. The importance of the matter is so critical that in the most of old civilizations some principles had been furnished for architects and other individuals who had engaged in this craft.
In ancient times the cave satisfied the needs of the intellectual man but since the half of previous century the ordinary housings and shelters do not satisfy him any more and he wants to construct high-rise buildings and from this stage technology has entered in the construction industry. Gradually the great economic foundations and vast office organizations administer this industry and the enormous capital used in this field. The huge buildings that man has been construct by using technology and art become the place of living of the greatest human capital. Libraries, huge hospitals, universities, factories, laboratories and super modern observatory are the samples of these capitals. Now at the contemporary time, dwelling is not considered only as a place for resting but men considers it as a place for education and as a place for evaluation of his characters and those who engage in this industry are responsible to fulfill this duty. For construction of a building the much quantity of money consumes, therefore the full reviewing of the rules and regulations govern on construction building, providing security and welfare for the members of society as well as preserving these valuable capitals are a critical responsibility.
The scope of civil responsibility has been developed simultaneously with the progress of the social life of man. At the present the civil responsibility is not limited to the traditional framework anymore and has special form and is not in a static status, in fact it is passing its evolution.
Nowadays the responsibility on the basis of Theory of Fault or Theory of Risk is not acceptable anymore. No individual and social schools are able to response to the issues of responsibility, so new theories are discussed and defended. Although the contracts cover the specific liabilities of the parties but in some circumstances the Non-contractual obligations have such power and clear logic that contractual obligations can not resist against them and they are forced to follow them. The clear example of these conditions is Clause of Reservation.
The law can not cover all kinds of faults and responsibilities but only can consists of a series of rules and regulations that specify the basis of responsibility and if a special type of fault mentions it has mostly used as an example.
It is not logical to abridge the individual rights on the pretext of preserving the right of society, similarly the individuals are not entitled to misuse the personal freedoms and endanger the rights of the society.
All the members of the society have the right to live in security and peace and any act or omission threats this secure and tranquility is violation of peopleís rights and inflict responsibility for the doers. In this regard the person is considered responsible that the loss is attributable to him but this not constitutes an obstacle other individuals do not prosecute for act or omission of another person.
Considering the above facts we can reach to this result that it is better to combine the principles of each these theories and make a compound theory. This theory should cover all attitudes; in other words each of the above-mentioned theories are acceptable in some aspects and are not acceptable in other aspects thus we must test and recognize the advantages and disadvantages of these theories. We can accept the positive aspects and ignore the negative aspects of each of the said theories.
Anyway, whatever the principles of responsibility may be and whether we believe in whatever of foregoing theories it is not possible to ignore other standpoints and doctrines and it is not admissible to consider the questions only by one side. The important thing is that the simple logic of the society can easily recognize the wrongful act and the one who commits the wrongful act but this is the duty of jurists to find an appropriate framework for it; in other words the phrases of loss or wrongful act are not subjective and credit concepts or it is better to say they are not merely subjective and credit, on the contrary they are exist in the real world and they are understandable and even sometimes can be receivable by the five senses.
Loss has various forms and different origins. One of the statuses of wrongful act is the act of those who engage in special craft and occupation, i.e. professional individuals.
Professional responsibility is a branch of civil responsibility studying and reviewing the wrongful acts of the specific kind of people. Studying the manner of organization of the society and the order govern on the society is not a new subject; in fact the matter has old precedent in the history of man but parallel to the evolution of human beings this kind of study become more complicated and sophisticated. In the past the person who judged was the one who executed the warrant but nowadays there are many organizations that deal with the judicial affairs, such as complicated judicial foundations, codification bodies, judges, lawyers, police and executive officers. The subjects are also have been categorized and this partitioning is still continuing. The history of the law indicates that the law as a general and whole idea has an old record equal to the old of man but in recent concept it has a short precedent; in fact the law, in modern meaning is a child of church.
For establishing order in the society the existing of the law is necessary; in this meaning, the law is a general concept that creates and adopted by competent authorities and so it has various samples.
The jurists has described the law as a knowledge that discuss the statute and they emphasized that this definition has no in contrary with natural rights; i.e. the law is a knowledge that discuss the statute and natural laws at the same time.
Attorney at law
* Radical Changes Lie Ahead For Afghan Lawyers
Commentary: Radical Changes Lie Ahead For Afghan Lawyers
Mon, 08/10/2007 - 10:02 ó haroon
As part of our new series about law, the judicial system, and related projects and reforms written by guest authors from the International Development Law Organization (click here for more information) Afgha.com presents the following commentary.
A new law is making its way to President Karzaiís desk for his approval; a law which will help change the face of the judicial system in Afghanistan.
After decades of war and radical regimes, Afghanistan is slowly piecing back together its legal infrastructure; court practices are being updated; defense counsels are being trained; judges are learning how to interpret and apply the countryís written legal codes. This is a crucial time in the development of the rule of law in Afghanistan.
Both Afghan and international legal experts have long since agreed that a functioning justice system requires a strong and independent legal profession. Indeed, this goal is recognized in both the Ministry of Justiceís five year strategy and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).
Making this political commitment a reality has, however, taken a great deal of effort on all sides. National and international stakeholders, led by the International Bar Association, have spent several years coordinating closely on fundamental plans to empower and regulate the legal sector and its workforce.
The result is the new ĎAdvocates Lawí. Currently in the hands of a joint committee of Mascherano and Loya Jirgas, the new legislation will pave the way for the establishment of an independent, non-governmental Afghan Bar Association.
Yet what exactly is this Ďbar associationí, and how will it help ordinary Afghans gain access to justice?
A bar association is a professional organization which acts as a national representative of the legal profession. It serves both the public and the legal sector by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the law. Independent bar associations play a vital role in encouraging public confidence in lawyers and the legal system, not only by lobbying for more effective working practices for their members, but also by imposing ethical standards of practice on the profession.
Although bar associations are a common feature in Islamic countries, Afghanistan does not currently have any regulatory or independent body articulating and enforcing standards of legal practice and ethical conduct. This leaves the legal system inherently open to wide-spread corruption and mismanagement.
Current legislation for lawyers is limited to the Law for the Organization of the Affairs of Defense Attorneys of 1972, which simply sets out the basic rights and obligations of the profession. The national Licensing & Registration Department only tends to become involved in fee disputes between clients and their lawyers.
However, in order to practice in Afghanistan, a lawyer will soon be subject to the accreditation requirements, code of conduct and disciplinary procedures of the Afghan Bar Association. As an independent body, it should, in theory, be better placed than the State to start addressing the long-term and heavily ingrained problems which have dissuaded the Afghan people from using the formal justice system for so many years.
The Bar Associationís initial members are most likely to be lawyers already holding a license on the date the Advocates Law comes into force. As Afghanistanís Licensing & Registration Department has so far issued only 320 licenses, a major national Ďoutreach and educationalí program is planned.
At this time, it is hard to estimate how many Afghan Ďlawyersí have the correct qualifications and are simply working as attorneys without a license, or indeed, how many unqualified frauds are taking money in exchange for representing clients. As the Bar Association establishes itself, public demand for licensed
lawyers should increase, thereby gradually bringing the majority of professionals under its remit.
Professional development will be another key part of the Associationís mandate. In addition to providing continuing legal education and the dissemination of learning materials, it will be tasked with the promotion and protection of the professional interests of lawyers.
Afghanistanís defense attorneys are in particular need of support from the new Bar Association, as they constantly battle to have their role as a protector of fair trial standards respected within the justice system.
Under Afghan law, defendants have the right to legal counsel. However, there is no government-sponsored system for the provision of legal aid and, at present, there are very few practicing defense attorneys available to do this work.
Many defense lawyers are regularly subject to undue interference and intimidation; some even report being refused the right to attend trials. The severe lack of human and physical resources which plague the Afghan court system means that defense lawyers often cannot get access to detainees, let alone private facilities for meeting with them. Lawyers are often not informed of when a trial will take place or given access to the results of police or prosecution investigations.
Significant efforts are already being made by national and international organizations to build capacity in the area of legal aid, with the clear aim of making the Constitutional guarantee of legal representation a reality for an increasing number of citizens.
However, there remains a great deal still to achieve in this area. As part of its work towards the promotion of justice, the Afghan Bar Association will be expected to work with other organizations on legal aid and access to justice initiatives, as well as educating the public about their legal rights and responsibilities.
With such a chronic shortage of lawyers across the country, a great deal of hope rests on the capacity of Afghanistanís next generation of legal professionals.
Newly-qualified law graduates are likely to make up a significant proportion of the founding members of the Bar Association and they are poised to play a vital role in the development of a sound basis on which to regulate the profession.
The good news is that Law and Shariía students and graduates are already benefiting from educational initiatives by international and national NGOs, designed to bridge the gap between the largely theoretical learning currently on offer at Afghanistanís University Faculties, and the practical realities of representing individuals and their rights in the Courts. At the heart of such programs lies a foundation of professional ethics and a thorough articulation of professional rights and obligations.
Membership of Afghan Bar Association will hopefully enable younger lawyers to integrate quickly into the judicial system and provide them with a clear voice alongside their senior colleagues in the profession.
When the Advocates Law comes into force, the road ahead will start to look a little brighter for the Afghans searching for justice. Although no one fosters any illusions that such change will occur quickly or easily, with sustained support from international donors and the Afghan legal community, the Afghan Bar Association has great potential to make a real difference.
The author, Nina Hall, is a program legal counsel for IDLO in Kabul, Afghanistan.
* Building Your Reputation!
Tips for the Star-Bound
Building Your Reputation in the Firm
Your rookie year, it's quite an experience. What a relief it is to get beyond those first few months and begin to feel at ease with the firm, its practices and your responsibilities! Now you are ready to focus fully on the practice of law and begin building your reputation in the firm. But how can you gain some visibility and make a positive impression on the powers that be? For starters, consider these tips:
1-Hone Your Craft
If you are observant, you will notice that the most successful attorneys are those who have finely-honed skills. They participate in seminars to deepen their knowledge and keep pace with the changes in their practice. They attend workshops to sharpen their research, writing and negotiating skills. And early in their careers, they challenged themselves to take on case responsibilities - whether it was taking depositions, drafting critical documents, negotiating settlements or forging the big deals.
By sharpening your skills and broadening your experiences, you too will be able to function more fully and independently. Moreover, your growing skill set and initiative will gain the respect of senior associates and partners, ultimately opening the door to higher-level work.
2-Become an Expert
Select an area of interest - something about which you are truly passionate. Perhaps, it's technology, ethics, client development or a specific area of law. Then concentrate on becoming an expert in that area -- research it, participate in seminars, involve yourself in bar-related activities. Ultimately, you will become the go-to person on this topic.
3-Get Involved in the Firm
Once you feel you have your new practice responsibilities in control, get more fully involved in the firm by seeking additional responsibilities. For example, offer to:
∑ Mentor a summer associate
∑ Be a recruiter at your school
∑ Participate in client pitches
∑ Conduct a workshop on your area of expertise
∑ Orchestrate an off-site meeting or a charity event
∑ Spearhead a committee to improve business practices
Your involvement will provide you with added experience and a broader perspective that make you a more valuable member of the firm. At the same time, it will give you a great platform for showcasing your special talents.
4-Be a Activist in the Bar
Join the local and/or state bar associations and attend their meetings. If you're already a member, get more deeply involved in committee work or on a task force. Look for opportunities to lecture or write articles in your area of specialty.
With a wide range of sections, divisions, commissions, committees, forums and task forces focused on specific practice areas, the American Bar Association also offers you many valuable opportunities to expand your knowledge and contacts, establish yourself as a dynamic contributor, and distinguish yourself as a talented and dedicated attorney.
5-Find Time for Pro Bono Work
Public service reflects favorably on your firm. Some pro bono activities may even generate publicity. The positive image created by your pro bono work speaks volumes about your firm and you.
Pro bono matters also may give you the opportunity to establish relationships with influential people within your firm, gain valuable advice and demonstrate your readiness for greater responsibility.
6-Leverage the Power of the Pen -- Give Voice to your Passions
Publishing and speaking are two powerful tools for raising your visibility while advancing your personal and professional goals. Choose your venue -- a bar or business journal, a professional workshop or an in-house seminar, or even a newspaper column or media broadcast. The options are many and the benefits substantial.
7-Cultivate Client Skills & Relationships
Clients are the life blood of a law firm. Attorneys who possess strong relationship and business development skills are a huge asset to their firms. As a young attorney, your opportunity to demonstrate these skills are frequently limited, so you'll need to be proactive. As noted earlier, volunteer to get involved in client pitches, bar association activities and even social events where your presentation and social skills can shine. Offer to be the client contact when the supervising attorney is on vacation or has a scheduling conflict.
Then, as you do take on more one-on-one client responsibilities, not only attend to client needs, but also listen for opportunities. Some of your firm's best opportunities for additional business will be with current clients -- the people and companies who have come to respect you for your responsiveness and expertise.
8-Be a Professional and Be the Best
Let your commitment to the law and the legal profession shine through -- in your work and in your relationships with clients, partners, colleagues, law firm staff, and all the other people you encounter in the various aspects of your profession.
Be professional. Put clients first and respect their confidences. Be diligent and persistent. Sweat the details. Respect deadlines and be responsive.
Treat everyone with respect. Set aside personal differences. Acknowledge other's contributions. And, perhaps most importantly, be gracious in triumph and defeat.
Strive for the highest standards -- be the best at what you do.
* Doing the Right Thing
Youíve accomplished quite a bit, law school must feel like a lifetime ago. Yet, like many young associates, you may still be a bit concerned about doing things right. After all, you want to do your best for your clients and youíre committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards.
Those high ideals are fundamental to becoming a good lawyer, and to help you to get off on the best possible foot, we spoke to Stephen W. Comiskey, attorney of 25 years and author of A Good Lawyerģ, Secrets Good Lawyers [And Their Best Clients] Already Know.
Comiskey offers some basic principles of good lawyering to act as guideposts to lawyers wanting to remain true to themselves, their clients, and the high standards of their profession. With his permission, we have published some of his ďsecrets,Ē adding a few of the additional thoughts he shared in his interview. We hope you find them helpful.
Practical Advice from Stephen W. Comiskey
ďWhatís most important to a lawyer -- whether itís your first day of practice or your last day of practice-- is to trust yourself, your instincts, your own innate intelligence and your own judgment,Ē Comiskey states. ďYouíve learned the ethical guideposts, just as you learned the basics for tort law, contract law or property law in law school. The principles are very straightforward. Now itís a matter of thinking about what youíre doing and applying your own common sense judgment.Ē
Be Alert to Conflicts
ďAlways be alert for potential conflicts of interest. Make a preliminary conflict check as soon as you know the name of the prospective client and the general subject matter of the representation. Resolve all potential conflicts before undertaking any representation,Ē he suggests.
ďItís the recognition of the potential conflict of interest thatís the hard part,Ē Comiskey notes. ďOnce identified, itís usually a straightforward exercise to determine whether or not there is a conflict.Ē
Know Your Clients
ďAs lawyers, we should be focused on how we can best serve our clients,ď Comiskey stresses. ďWe should always be asking ourselves, ĎIs this something I can and should do for my client, or would my client be better served if some else did it?íĒ
ďAfter each prospective client has told you their story, but before you tell them what you think, ask them what they want and why,Ē he advises. ďTheir responses may surprise you. After youíve found out what they really want, tell them honestly and realistically whether or not you can help them get it.Ē
Comiskey is adamant: ďKnow who your client is. Remember who your client is. Only represent your client.
Donít surprise your client.Ē
He also cautions, ďA lawyer must constantly monitor the appropriate proximity to maintain with each client. You want to balance the objectivity that distance provides with the subjectivity that closeness provides. That distance is different for each client. Donít get sucked in.Ē
ďYou do your client a disservice if you cannot maintain your objectivity about their case. Be passionately objective, if you must, but be objective,Ē Comiskey emphasizes.
Guard Your Communications
ďQuestion your client only at a time and in a place where the answers will remain attorney-client privileged information,Ē he counsels.
ďRemember The Alamo: The Attorney-Client Privilege. Before accessing or sharing information, ask yourself, ĎIs there a ďneed to know?í In naval parlance,
ĎLoose lips sink ships.íĒ
As each case progresses, Comiskey recommends, ďShare with your client your decisions and your thought processes concerning the moral and ethical issues presented, in addition to the legal and factual ones.Ē
He also advises, ďNo one but you should be providing any information at any time to anybody. Train your staff from the outset that their job is to take in information and write down questions to pass on to you; but only you should provide any information or answer any questions. This is true, regardless of whether the caller is a client or opposing counsel.Ē
Comiskey acknowledges that practicing in an electronic age presents additional challenges. ďWith the advent of e-mail, clients often expect a more rapid response.Ē He suggests, ďBalance responsiveness with diligence. The best response is a precise response, but as it turns out, most situations donít require a Supreme Court brief as a response. Use your own good judgment.Ē
He also cautions, ďAvoid using the fax machine for sensitive material. If you must use it for expediency and your document contains attorney-client privileged information or anything youíd prefer not to see on the front page of tomorrowís newspaper, double-check the fax number with the prospective recipient to ensure it is correct. Then fax it yourself.Ē
Comiskey also suggests, ďIf you are dealing with sensitive matters, consider whether or not any document -- paper or electronic -- really needs to be created. Consider oral briefings in person with the client taking no notes.Ē
Be Diligent, Strive for Excellence
Comiskey is a strong advocate for diligence. ďHave faith in the legal system, but remember itís a hands-on operation, and the best results occur when they are your hands controlling it.Ē
ďLawyering is difficult,Ē he notes. ďIt requires continuous thinking. One of the things we all find hardest to do.Ē
He also believes, ďA lawyer has to be the detail person. Check and recheck everything. It is important that everyone that you deal with have universal faith in the accuracy of what you say and give them.Ē
ďNo loose pages,Ē he stresses. ďFor want of a nail, the Kingdom was lost.Ē
In fact, Comiskey suggests a good lawyer ďBe over-prepared.Ē
ďRefuse to accept less than your best from yourself. Keep rewriting until you get it right. If itís important, be shamelessly persistent. Be relentless,Ē he urges.
Moreover, he adds, ďConsider yourself the final reviewer of what you do. Even if your work will pass through several othersí hands before the finished product goes out the door. What you do should be correct and proper. You should always approach it as if it were the finished product.Ē
If you strive to be a good lawyer, Comiskey recommends, ďKnow your weaknesses. Work hard to make them your strengths.Ē
At the same time, he notes, ďItís the practice of law and practice makes perfect. Practice every thing you can, every time you can. Practice spontaneity. Practice extemporization. Practice everything.Ē
ďLawyering is an art, not a science. It takes study, observation and experience to master the art of lawyering,Ē Comiskey observes.
ďStrive for excellence. Excellence without arrogance. Excellence with humility,Ē he urges.
Be a ďCustodian of Societyís IdealsĒ
Comiskey believes a good lawyer is the custodian of societyís ideals. ďHonor, courage and commitment are the heart and soul and the body of a lawyer,Ē he says. He offers these additional guideposts:
∑ ďBe true to your word.Ē
∑ ďBy everything you say and do, ensure that your clients and your staff understand that you have
no tolerance for dishonesty.Ē
∑ ďTreat everyone the way you expect to be treated.Ē
∑ ďWhere honesty and integrity are concerned, permit yourself no rationalizations. Be vigilant.
Honesty and integrity are lost insidiously.Ē
ďLawyering does not require or condone any distraction from your own high moral and ethical standards,Ē Comiskey observes. ďBe true to yourself and to those standards. Always. Donít let any misguided loyalty to your client undermine your loyalty to yourself, your ideals, your family and your profession.Ē
Ethics: Integral to Your Practice
ďEthics is an integral part of the practice of law. Itís a thread thatís woven through your life and your practice, not a separate or secondary consideration,Ē he says.
ďA lawyer needs to look at everything with two sets of eyes -- one set focusing on the substantive issues, the other set examining whether you should be doing this at all or handling the matter in a different way. Itís the way to practice law,Ē Comiskey concludes.
Stephen W. Comiskey is the managing partner of the law firm of Comiskey & Hunt in McLean, Virginia where he has a General Civil and Trial Practice. He is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts of Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. A 1969 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he earned his J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University, graduating magnum cum laude in 1976, and was Managing Editor of the law review.
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