Denver Bar Association
December 2008
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Now on DVD: Professionalism Vignettes for Your Firm


From Your DBA–CBA Professionalism Coordinating Council

Do you have a copy of The Lawyer’s Oath hanging on your office wall? Remember the first time you read it? It brought home the responsibility our Supreme Court placed on us when they granted our law licenses. In short, it requires us to conduct ourselves as professionals.

Easy to say. But in the day-to-day conflict and struggle of our practices, all of us have faced moments when we have fallen short.

Fortunately, now there’s help.

Last year, the DBA–CBA Professionalism Coordinating Council developed a DVD of 21 short, entertaining, and powerful vignettes. The video clips are fast-paced and entertaining. They illustrate common professionalism problems. Some of the scenes illustrate unprofessional conduct; others depict lawyers acting professionally and honorably. They deal with situations encountered in both litigation and transactional practices.

Each vignette is only a few minutes long. Whether or not your firm or law office has a formal program for discussion of professionalism issues as part of its ongoing professional development plan, these vignettes can be easily used during a lunch-time meeting.

Currently, the vignettes are being shown by Council facilitators to local law firms, Colorado law schools, government law offices and local bar associations. In 30 presentations so far, the vignettes have been very well-received by lawyers.

Get to the Source!

The professionalism DVD is rooted in the DBA-CBA Professionalism Coordinating Council's Principles of Professionalism, which remind
practitioners of what it takes to practice professionally. Take a look here:

DBA Principles of Professionalism:

http://www.denbar.org/repository/Inside_Bar
/Professionalism/Professionalism.pdf?ID=1105

CBA Principles of Professionalism:

http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20094/subID
/24566/CCRL/

Typically, a presentation lasts an hour or so, with as few as two or three, or as many as six, vignettes shown, depending on the discussions that ensue. The purpose of the vignettes is to stimulate discussion; there is no single right answer to the questions presented. The idea is to discuss the problems, and come up with practical, honorable ways to overcome them.

Participants find themselves easily drawn into discussion. Council members report that generating discussion is hardly a problem. If anything, Council members say that trying to show more than two or three vignettes in a single hour has been nearly impossible. The discussions are so lively and valuable that we run out of time. Often, the discussions continue as the participants filter out of the meetings, illustrating the power of these videos in advancing the dialogue about what it means to be a professional lawyer.

By year’s end, the DVD will be packaged with a new teaching manual and presentation materials. Eventually, the Council wants Bar members to use the vignettes in self-directed discussions, and possibly in-house fully accredited CLE programs.

While the teaching manual is receiving finishing touches, Council members will continue to fan out to present the vignettes to groups all around the metro area, to new classes in the law schools, and to local bar association and practice group meetings.

Producing the DVD was a much bigger project than anticipated, but it was definitely worth the investment. The Council raised production funds, prepared scripts, enlisted professional actors and arranged filming by the mass media department at Metropolitan State College. The Council also elicited feedback from local attorneys, judges and the Office of Regulatory Counsel over a period of several months.

We owe it to our profession, our state and our colleagues to constantly strive to practice as professionals. But perhaps most important, we owe it to ourselves. Living the principles of professionalism takes discipline, focus and ongoing education. The vignettes can help, in a big way. The DVD is easy to show, and a lot more fun than a lecture on professionalism.

If you’d like to use the professionalism vignettes in an upcoming meeting, call the DBA at (303) 860-1115, or send an e-mail to darchuleta@cobar.org.


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