Virtue, or why legal ethics should not be an oxymoron
Well, I’ve begun what some say is a "life sentence" on the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures Committee of the State Bar of Georgia, working on updating our Rules of Professional Conduct. We meet every month or two in the former Federal Reserve Bank vault in the Bar Center (where cell phones don’t work due to the thick steel walls), deliberating on line-by-line comparisons of the current Georgia Rules (and Comments on the Rules) with the most recent edition of the American Bar Association Model Rules, cross references between the Rules, and variations adopted in other states. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds, as everyone else in the room probably a lot smarter than me.
Some people jokingly refer to "legal ethics" as an oxymoron. It should not be. At attorneys we work constantly with conflict — either current or potential — and conflict involves friction and a wide range of emotions. With conflicts come ethical challenges, whether you are in law, business, politics, the military, or big time sports. As an organized Bar, we have to set and enforce behavioral boundaries, thus the title "Rules of Professional Conduct."
However, outwardly enforced rules of conduct cannot fully substitute for a virtuous character. None of us are perfect. In the daily press of our work, all of us fall short of the ideal. However, it is worthwhile for us to occasionally recall St. Augustine’s list of the four Cardinal Virtues: justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance, as well as the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity (or love).
I’ll undoubtedly write on these virtues in relation to the legal professional on another day.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.