Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2005

Letters

CLE Idea
Judge Darling’s letter about St. Ivo, the patron saint of lawyers (May 2005), brought back memories.

In 1994 on a vacation trip, we happened into Treguier, France, totally unaware of St. Ivo. I found that Treguier has a celebration on May 19 of each year. Apparently they have a procession of lawyers and judges from all over the world, about 1,000 or more, in honor of St. Ivo, also called St. Ives and St. Yves. It is called a pilgrimage seeking a "pardon."

I went over to the cathedral, knocked on the door, tried the door and it was locked, so I got no pardon.

It is a beautiful area for a CLE on May 19 of next year.

Richard F. Deich
Portland

Confusing Concepts
I found Ira Zarov’s article ("Why Be Professional," May 2005) disturbing, not because I disagree with his advocacy of civility (which he labels professionalism) in the practice of law, but because I think he is confusing two concepts. Civility and professionalism are not the same thing. Civility works in all endeavors (except, possibly, commercial wrestling). Professionalism is unique to each profession.

I start with my definition of a profession (excluding at the outset any discussion beginning with, "the oldest * * *"). The Oregon Supreme Court explained the term in State ex rel Sisemore v. St’d Opt’l Co., 182 Or 452, 458-459 (1947). It said:

A profession has been defined as: "A vocation in which a professed knowledge of some department of learning or science is used in its application to the affairs of others or in the practice of an art founded upon it." Oxford English Dictionary. Another definition is: "…a vocation founded upon prolonged and specialized intellectual training which enables a particular service to be rendered." Encyc. Soc. Sci., vol. XII, p. 478. "…[T]he principal difference between the situation in ancient and mediaeval times was that in the latter the teachers, administrators, lawyers and physicians had received prolonged formal training and constituted a class apart; and it is this characteristic, the possession of an intellectual technique acquired by special training, which can be applied to some sphere of everyday life, that forms the distinguishing mark of a profession…"1 Encyc. Soc. Sci., vol. XII. D. 476."

What sets lawyers apart and makes our profession useful to the rest of society is not that we behave civilly toward one another. It is that civilized society depends upon the existence of rules governing the relationships among people, and we have been trained in both the rules and the processes for implementing them.

In practical terms that means that professionalism for attorneys is not invariably imposing upon others what we or our clients want at the moment, but knowing or learning the applicable law and assisting our clients in conforming to it.

When I hire a professional architect I don’t expect him or her to implement the whims of my design ideas to build a home that is unsafe for my family. I expect the architect to be bound by professional standards learned in a lengthy education to prevent that. I expect my physician to provide medical care in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath and an even lengthier education.

So why should someone come to an attorney and expect to impose upon the attorney not the obligation of a result in accord with the law, but the obligation of winning? Unfortunately all too often it is because that is the standard we set for ourselves.

If we as a profession share a common standard — resolving disputes in accordance with the law and otherwise helping our clients meet the requirements of the law — it is difficult for us not to be civil to one another. It is also far easier for us to assist our clients in resolving disputes if we adhere to that standard. If we as a profession are about nothing but winning, then our civility will inevitably match that of the commercial wrestlers I mentioned at the outset. You will notice, I did not say professional wrestlers.

Warren Deras
Portland


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