We have a saying around my office, "You are a professional, act professionally." In other words, it doesn't matter whether you choose to be a lawyer, a journalist, a cab driver or a cashier; YOU should do YOUR job better than I could if I stepped into your shoes for a day.
With that in mind, here's an excerpt from a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. The facts of the case aren't really important here (the case involves a female physician bringing a Title VII discrimination claim against the Tulane School of Medicine after the medical school denied her tenure). Her attorney's conduct, on the other hand ...
Phipps: . . . so that’s about all I have to say, Your Honor. I don’t have anything other than that. You know, my client lives in Chicago. We communicate occasionally on the phone, she sent me the documents. And um, she’s a doctor. She continues to earn a living, and she’s generally unavailable if you call her because she, she’s sort of a traveling doctor.
Judge: That’s not much of thing you come in here and tell us, I guess.
Phipps: Well, my attitude is, the [district court] judge got it right . . . And as far as whether even Ricks should apply, I don’t think it should.
Judge: What do you do about Morgan?
Phipps: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know Morgan, Your Honor.
Judge: You don’t know Morgan?
Judge: You haven’t read it?
Phipps: I try not to read that many cases, your Honor. Ricks is the only one I read. Oh, Ledbetter, I read Ledbetter, and I read that one that they brought up last night. I don’t know if that’s not Ledbetter, I can’t remember the name of it. Ricks is the one that I go by; it’s my North star. Either it applies or it doesn’t apply. I don’t think it applies.
Judge: I must say, Morgan is a case that is directly relevant to this case. And for you representing the Plaintiff to get up here—it’s a Supreme Court case—and say you haven’t read it. Where did they teach you that?
Phipps: They didn’t teach me much, Your Honor.
Judge: At Tulane, is it?
Judge: Okay. Well, I must say, that may be an all time first.
Phipps: That’s why I wore a suit today, Your Honor.