Professionalism refers to those qualities and attributes of a lawyer reflecting
honor, integrity, civility, and commitment in the practice of law. These qualities notably elevate the profession
from simply a means to earn a living. An
attorney demonstrates professionalism by striving above career success, in
pursuit of goals that meaningfully enhance the pursuit of justice and the rule
of law for the betterment of our society.
Those goals include increasing the representation of the unrepresented
and endeavoring to strengthen the public perception that our legal system
functions effectively, impartially, and fairly.
Professionalism naturally carries with it the awareness that the law,
and thus the manner in which lawyers conduct their practices, has a broad
impact on people’s lives and on society itself.
Beyond thorough compliance
with the Rules of Professional Conduct and the skillful application of knowledge,
resourcefulness, and perseverance in the performance of service, attorney
professionalism involves a dignified pursuit of a higher calling that can
enrich our society. Professionalism
requires poise, honesty, maturity, and reasoned judgment and embodies a
heightened sense of responsibility and fair play, as well as a respect for
others ─ even when zealously advocating on behalf of the client. As attorneys pursue excellence, they should
also look to apply their hard-earned skills and experience to serve, assist,
and mentor within the profession.
The New York State
Bar Association’s Committee on Attorney Professionalism confers the
“Professionalism Award” on those attorneys who most markedly demonstrate these
values and wholeheartedly embody these ideals.
An attorney reflects the values and ideals
of professionalism by:
in exemplary ethical conduct while fulfilling the spirit, as well as the
requirements, of the Rules of Professional Conduct;
the highest skills level in a specific field, as demonstrated by pursuing efforts
to improve skills above the required continuing legal education and by keeping
abreast of the latest developments in the attorney’s areas of expertise;
the way for the enhanced future of the profession, especially by mentoring
distinguished judgment while providing client service at the highest levels,
and formulating and implementing views and advice based on knowledge and experience;
with dignity and integrity as exhibited by soundness of character, honesty in
practice, undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and agreeing to disagree without
being disagreeable; and
civility and always endeavoring to behave responsibly and to exhibit
appropriate courtesy and respect of others, in the highest aspirational spirit
of the profession.