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How Can I use the skill of integrity when becoming a lawyer?

When will this skill come into good use during a court case or even interviewing clients.

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Bob’s Answer

Hello, Joshua, and thank you for your insightful query.

As an old lawyer with a variety of legal practice under my belt, including 4 years serving at West Point in the administration of the Cadet Honor Code, please bear with me as I discuss integrity.

First and indeed foremost, integrity is not a skill; it is rather a personal quality all too often lacking to some degree in most people.

Examples of legal skills include the ability to pose useful, probing questions on direct or cross, the ability to present an effective argument to persuade a jury or judge, the ability, as you say, to be able to interview clients such that you put them at ease, gain their trust, yet ferret out the essential details of the case to assist you in presenting your side.

Like studying a foreign language or a musical instrument, some people are innately more adept than others at these activities, but all the tools of the legal trade such as those set forth above can be taught, acquired, and improved with age and use.

Integrity is a innate quality that all (good) lawyers must possess to begin with. It forms the moral underpinning to our work, which is ultimately the uncovering and presentation of justice.

All lawyers have a canon of ethics from we work, a set of guide posts to ensure we uphold the high ethical traditions and standards of our profession. While those standards govern different facets of our work, all those standards have one foundation: integrity. Integrity is honesty, it is the verity of your word such that when you make a statement in court or even to opposing counsel, those people can trust you implicitly that you are being truthful. It is the foundation of trust that must exist for our legal system to function at all.

So dear Joshua, seek, obtain, and perfect your legal skills, but always view integrity as part and parcel of who you are, as the basis for every legal skill, as the basis for every legal decision you make.

I have a feeling that you are going to be a great lawyer. Much success and God bless!!
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Andrea’s Answer

Hi Joshua,

I would love to answer this question more fully than Bob's response, but I couldn't do it any justice. Bob's response is spot on. You either agree to comply with the rules of ethics that govern you as a lawyer or you risk losing your license to practice. If you mean that it would bother you to advocate for someone that you believe or know is guilty, for example, you need only look at what the rules require of you in that instance. Let's say, for example, that you know your client is guilty (whether of a crime or something civil, like negligence.) While you can't present false testimony, part of your job is to look at whether the opposing party can meet its burden of proof. It's not up to the lawyer to determine whether someone is guilty/liable-- the lawyer looks at all of the evidence, determines whether any motions can be filed, discusses with the client what (s)he (can or can't) argue based on the evidence for both sides, and makes a recommendation to the client on whether to settle/plea or go to trial. If you believe you have integrity, Bob is right-- you'll make a great lawyer because your integrity will tell you to act ethically.
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