Every attorney understands the value of ethics in the practice of law, even if only for the extent that education in ethics is required to maintain a bar license. However, not all attorneys appreciate the importance of professionalism, in addition to ethics. Chief Justice Harold Clarke of the Georgia Supreme Court once described it this way: “Ethics is a minimum standard which is required of all lawyers while professionalism is a higher standard expected of all lawyers.”
Attorneys can all do their part to restore the esteem of the profession. We are especially reminded of this in reflecting on the recent loss of Lane Young, whose contributions to the field of ethics and legal malpractice defense in Georgia were substantial. Lane was a formidable lawyer, but highly respected by his peers and clients. He was also well-regarded by his legal opponents, who valued his integrity and insight. Lane was a primary example of the idea that lawyers do not have to be nasty or needlessly aggressive to win cases: They can be professional and successful.
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