On Friday, June 7th, I had the pleasure of attending the Bar Admission Ceremony welcoming around 80 new attorneys to our ranks. The ceremony was held at the Hawai’i Supreme Court in Ali’iolani Hale which set a perfect stage for a ceremony marking the end of the law school and bar exam journey and the start of a career practicing law. The excitement, joy, relief and pride were almost palatable as family and friends crowded the standing-room only courtroom to witness the day their son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, aunty, uncle, mother, father, hanai family member or friend fulfilled a dream and entered into this highly respected and admired profession as a lawyer. It caused me to reflect on my experience becoming an attorney, and in particular how I saw the law and our role as representatives, counselors, and officers of the court.
Remember back when you passed the bar examination and were sworn in as an attorney and a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association? Remember back before the trials and tribulations of everyday law practice, when the law was new, and exciting, and you believed in your own unlimited potential to use your law license to help others and make significant, meaningful changes in the world? Remember back before the challenges of dealing with unreasonable clients, responding to aggressive adverse counsel, meeting unrealistic and seemingly arbitrary deadlines, and complying with all of the detailed rules and regulations governing how we practice law jaded your idealism and dreams? There was a time when the law was pure and the answers to every legal problem and issue seemed within reach, if only we were to spend the time and effort to find them. There was a time when we believed we could make a difference and we were determined to do so. Becoming a lawyer wasn’t just a means to an end. We didn’t do it just to make a living. We did it because we wanted to help others.
I had the honor of giving some remarks to these newest members of our Bar, and as I stood and looked out at the admittees and their families, I saw the same look in each of their eyes. They each showed pride in their accomplishments, but also anticipation of endless possibilities opened to them and the joy and excitement of starting that journey. There is respect, appreciation, and even admiration for our courts, judges, attorneys and all those engaged in the administration of justice and important role our legal system plays in a free and democratic government. And I wondered, as I finished my remarks by encouraging them to go out and make a difference, how long they will retain their optimism and excitement about the law and our profession. Truth is, it should never end.
For many of you it hasn’t, and because of you I am encouraged and inspired. For those that feel you have lost that sense of awe and respect for our profession and our role as attorneys, allow me to suggest a few things you might do that will help remind you what an incredibly important and meaningful position we play as attorneys in Hawaii.
Join a Section. If you are not already a member of an HSBA section, join one in your area of practice or an area of practice you are interested in. The sections and contact information for the section chairs are all listed on our website at: http://www.hsba.org/sections.aspx. And here’s the trick – show up at the meetings. You will meet other lawyers, many of whom you may know, but many whom you may have not had the opportunity to meet, in a non-adversarial environment where you can share knowledge, experiences, insights and questions. If you are like me, you will make friends and build a network of attorneys that you can call on when something unusual arises and you want an opinion or a form from someone else.
Be a mentor. Share your knowledge, experience and expertise with young attorneys starting out in the profession. Many don’t know that the HSBA has a Mentoring Program already packaged and looking for mentors and mentees. Information on the Mentoring Program is available on our website at: http://hsba.org/Mentoring_Program.aspx. However, you don’t have to join a formal program to be a mentor. Many of the attorneys who helped me when I started practice (and continue to help me when I get stumped) stepped up just by offering to have coffee and giving their number to call if I had questions. From that grew friendships and alliances that I value and that make the practice of law more enjoyable.
Volunteer. There are so many people in our communities, our neighborhoods, and even our families who need help. As attorneys, we have the great fortune of knowing the law and understanding the legal system in a way others do not. When we took our oath of admission to practice law in Hawaii, we dedicated ourselves to, among other things, give due consideration to the legal needs of those without access to justice. You are busy. I know. You have many, many commitments. I know. You don’t have enough time as it is. I know. Do it anyway. It will make a difference, not only for those you assist, but for you. Opportunities to volunteer are a mouse-click away at: http://www.hsba.org/Volunteer_2.aspx and many involve very minimal commitments of time. I am confident in telling you that you will never regret the time you spend giving pro bono service.
Inspired yet? You will be. We should all be proud to be members of the Bar and attorneys in Hawaii. And we should never lose that vision we held when we were first sworn in and admitted to practice law in Hawaii. Congratulations to our newest members. Inspire us and make a difference. Oh, and just as a reminder – come to the HSBA Annual Dinner on August 24. It will be a great evening and a lot of fun. Mahalo and a hui hou.
- Craig P. Wagnild, HSBA President
I would like to start this column out by thanking our outgoing President Jeff Kent for his years of service to the Young Lawyers Division and wish him and his wife well on their move to Australia.
Over the next few months I will be updating you on the projects and events that the HSBA's Young Lawyers Division is working on. On Friday June 28th, the YLD in partnership with the Shidler College of Business Alumni Association will host a Professional Services Social at Pearl from 5:30-8:30 PM. This is a great way to network with young professionals from a variety of industries.
Please RSVP by June 24th at the following webpage. Hope to see you all there!
- Malcolm Barcarse Jr. - Young Lawyers Division President