Professionalism in the Practice of Law
Professionalism: The conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” Merriam-Webster
In many ways, professionalism is the key to determining if a person in the legal profession is truly committed to their client’s goals and needs. When looking for an attorney to represent you in any type of legal matter, in addition to the cost, education, and experience, there are a number of things to look for, most of which come under the definition of professionalism. Here are ten of the most important keys to an attorney’s ability to be the legal professional you are looking for:
- Remembering an attorney must not only represent you in the office, he or she must be able to present your case, when necessary, in a courtroom in front of a judge and sometimes a jury. Here is where appearance is so important. How an attorney dresses and how he or she stands will make a powerful impression either for or against. Conservative clothing in good taste, including shoes (which should be polished), and appropriate jewelry are a must. Even in the office environment dress and accessories should be professional. Attractive hairstyles for both men and women along with clean fingernails are important as well. Good posture indicates an air of confidence, helpful when working to impress a judge and/or jury.
- An attorney should deal with clients, and all who they come in contact with while carrying out legal obligations, in a manner which is fair, honest, and upfront. Clients need to be told the truth even though it sometimes is not the “good news” they were hoping for. Professionalism will allow an attorney to have the rapport with a client, much the same as a medical doctor has with a patient, so the client will feel the empathy of his or her attorney no matter what the outcomes. In other words, professionalism in the legal profession means truly caring for clients on a personal level.
- Professionalism includes how an attorney handles the business end of the professions. Such things as meeting deadlines, following through with case strategies, being on time for appointments, and returning client inquiries in a timely fashion all indicate professionalism.
- Having a calm demeanor when faced with a difficult situation, such as courtroom trauma, also plays an important role in how well an attorney will be perceived as a professional. Equally important is being able to help a client relax and keep calm when faced with difficult and/or emotional circumstances such as testifying in court or needing to be present with the opposing party during a mediation or deposition.
- Being a good listener.
- An attorney should try to picture him or herself as being in the client’s shoes. Professionalism requires the ability to look at a client’s needs from the client’s perspective and avoid making judgments, especially negative ones, based on the attorney’s own perspectives.
- Make sure the attorney has a realistic communication procedure in place. Professionalism demands traditional communication methods as well as up to date ones.
- Smiles often.
- Professionalism requires the ability to look other people in the eyes with confidence, understanding, and the assurance of taking them and their concerns seriously.
- Total commitment to clients’ concerns in working out the best solutions possible to hopefully gain the desired outcomes is an important goal of professionalism.
No attorney is perfect, either in their personal life or in their profession. There will be times when professionalism seems swept under the rug, but these times should be few. Overall you should gain the feeling that the attorney you plan to hire is a professional and will give you the representation you desire and deserve. When choosing an attorney, it is helpful to gauge his or her professionalism by asking family and friends for a reference and by taking advantage of a free, initial, in-office consultation offered by most attorneys.
Attorney Grant Gisondo, whose Family Law practice is in West Palm, Beach offers a free, in-office consultation where he meets with clients personally. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange County in Florida or in Washington DC. Attorney Gisondo looks forward to meeting with you. Call his office at (561) 530-4568 for an appointment. You can also learn about Attorney Gisondo and his Family Law practice on his website, https://gisondolaw.com.