What Professionalism Means

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Professionalism in the law requires more than compliance with the formal Rules of Professional Conduct. Professionalism requires, at all times, civility and personal courtesy as well as an unyielding commitment to the selfless service of others.
Ronald J. Riccio
New Jersey Commission for Professionalism in the Law
Chair 1998-2001  

   
When I became a lawyer, I was acutely aware of the power being granted to me to affect the lives of others. I recognized it as an awesome strength afforded me, unavailable to the average citizen. To be a lawyer was truly something special. But with power and authority comes responsibility. We are responsible to exercise that power given to us in a civil, kind, respectful, fair and considerate manner. That, to me, is the essence of professionalism. 
Jay H. Greenblatt
2003 Daniel J. O’Hern Award
   
Professionalism means literally, “what it means to be a professional.” Throughout the commission’s quarter century it has focused on the most critical aspect of that definition: the duty to act ethically and civilly. Of course, there are other aspects of that definition, which we have also paid attention to, such as pro bono service and access to justice.
Rayman L. Solomon
New Jersey Commission for Professionalism in the Law
Chair 2007-2011
   
Our profession lets each lawyer follow St. Mother Teresa’s example and words “God gave you two hands, one to help yourself, one to help others.” Professionalism helps lawyers help others. 
Thomas R. Curtin
2015 Daniel J. O’Hern Award

       
In my view, the essence of professionalism is respect—respect for the position you hold and respect for all those with whom you come in contact, even if it is in an adversarial relationship. We should fight hard for our clients, but we should never make it personal. We should fight about the facts, but we should not fight and attack each other.
John M. Fietkewicz
2017 Charles J. Hollenbeck Award
   
Professionalism in the law gives me a sense of pride in our profession as our profession strives to treat our clients, adversaries, and Judiciary with civility and dignity. These qualities are so needed in our world that is missing these basic qualities on a daily basis. 
Richard J. Badolato
2018 Daniel J. O'Hern Award
   
Professionalism in the law means using your skills you gained through your education and your innermost compassion and compass for truth to guide your clients and advocate for them respectfully and zealously before the courts. It is this personal compass for truth and discretion that catapults a lawyer to the position of standard-bearer of this great profession.
Kimberly A. Yonta
2019 - 2020 President, New Jersey State Bar Association

   
Professionalism means treating all people equally and with respect. Always assume that your opposing counsel is operating in good faith. Acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and be sure to learn from your own.
Sabrina G. Comizzoli
2020 Charles J. Hollenbeck Award
   
To me professionalism means a commitment to excellence no matter how difficult the circumstances.
   
I remember many years ago, I tried a multiple defendant case in federal court where my client failed to appear at trial and the judge ruled she was voluntarily absent so I had to try the case without her. To my surprise, in this difficult situation I worked just as hard preparing for my opening, my cross-examination and summation as I would have if the defendant was present and I had a chance to win. Only after the trial did I realize that I worked so hard out of professional pride. I wasn’t about to mail it in, this was the only way I knew how to do it! 
Joseph A. Hayden Jr.
2020 Daniel J. O’Hern Award

      

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