For over three decades, I have had the distinct honor and privilege to advise my colleagues in the bar on professionalism, ethics and even life. When I started, Jeffrey M. Smith was my mentor in the areas of professional liability as he authored one of the leading treatises in the United States in legal malpractice.
Eventually, I started writing my own articles and books, co-authoring articles over the last decade with Shari Klevens, the current chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professional Liability. Together, Shari and I co-authored with Alanna Clair a national book entitled “The Lawyer’s Handbook.”
Needless to say, the logistics of the practice of law have certainly changed a lot since 1983 (the last century) when I started practicing. Pink telephone slips have been replaced by voicemail. And, letters and handwritten notes have been replaced by emails. Yet, through it all, the actual practice of law, what we do as counselors, has not changed much.
Attorneys solve problems. Sometimes, we solve problems through negotiation and agreement. Sometimes, we solve problems by discovery and litigation. But, the end is almost always closure so that our clients can get on with their lives knowing what they must do and sometimes what they cannot do.
Writing the books and practice tips has always been fun for me—yes, fun. Instead of quoting cases and bar rules, I always found that the most helpful tools were practical ones dealing with things that actually happen every day. So, whether firing a partner or opening a new file, the focus has always been on how to make the life of the attorneys who read the practice tips a little easier than it was before.
The Daily Report, one of the most useful resources for attorneys anywhere, has been great to work with and eager to develop and publish material helpful to its readers, such as practice tips. Georgia lawyers are fortunate to have it.
Make no mistake, I love the practice of law, and I am one of those who is proud to be an attorney. The reason that I virtually never said ‘no’ to participating in a seminar or writing another practice tip is that I felt (and still do) that I owe so much to a profession that has been so good to me.
As many have read, the president has nominated me to become the next ambassador to Luxembourg. It is a grand place. And, if the United States Senate confirms me, it is where I will be for the next three years. I have always wanted to serve my country, and this is my chance.
But, I will miss my colleagues in the bar as I transition out of writing the practice tips that so many read and apply to their own practices. Don’t worry, the practice tips will go on.
Beginning with the next one, they will be co-authored by Shari Klevens and Alanna Clair. If the truth be told, no one will notice the difference unless they look at the pictures, since Shari and Alanna have been carrying the lead oar for some time now.
Thank you for reading, writing, offering feedback, sending ideas, and otherwise working with me in one of the grandest professions in America—the practice of law. You have honored me, and I hope I honor our bar.
One last thing: always use an engagement letter or fee contract and when you are finished, please send a file closing letter. I couldn’t write without reminding all of us of these two important things.
Go Dawgs! And, always be proud to be a Georgia lawyer—we are the best.
J. Randolph Evans is a partner at Dentons US in Atlanta. He handles complex litigation matters in state and federal courts for large companies and is a frequent lecturer and author on the subjects of insurance, professional liability and ethics.