Quote of the Day

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Honesty, Integrity, and Loyalty

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, told the Harvard graduating Class of 1999, "Without mutual trust and market participants abiding by a rule of law, no economy can prosper." Then in 2005, he taught the graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, "In virtually all our transactions, whether with customers or with colleagues, with friends or with strangers, we rely on the word of those with whom we do business. If we could not do so, goods and services could not be exchanged efficiently."

His consensus that business cannot function without trust, which is rooted in honesty, not only applies to economics, but to the Rule of Law, as well. Testimony given “under oath”, is held up as the standard upon which life-altering decisions are made. The lives and fortunes of legal adversaries hang on the accuracy and validity of statements given by witnesses. So important is honesty in the Courts, that the violation of this oath is punishable by years of incarceration.

So, how do attorneys and experts navigate the minefield of seductive falsehoods and still maintain honesty, integrity, and loyalty to their clients? . . .

Simply be honest with the facts and always draw fact-based conclusions.

This does not imply that we must take every bit of evidence at face value nor refrain from diligently researching past decisions to find a ruling that fits our case. It means that part of truth cannot be omitted. Fabrication of facts or blatant misrepresentation of the truth, can never occur. Accusations are specific, and the defense of them should be as specific, but not censured.

There will always be times, nearly all the time, when facts contradict, don’t align, or are ambiguous. Rather than succumb to fact-less conclusions or inflammatory accusations, we need to concentrate our efforts to separate fact from fiction, align perspectives, and clarify conditions. It is our job to do so, it should not be a convenience if it happens. Anything less than this is a disservice to our clients and reflects on our level of competence.

Integrity is not something we do, it is what we have as a result of our actions. Without integrity we have no bearings, no character, and we lose the ability to be trusted. Integrity precludes stable opinions based on principles and the consistent implementation of those principles. It negates the need to remember which lie fits into which cubby, because the answers are always the same, even if they are adjusted to fit individual circumstances.

Loyalty to a client does not mean we have an obligation to provide acquittal. Loyalty in representation demands that we ensure the Rule of Law is followed, that our client has every opportunity to correctly present their story, and that miscarriages, injustice, and abuse are neutralized.

The first question a client usually asks an attorney is some variation of, “Can you get me off?” For some attorneys and experts, the answer is always, “Yes,” then any means available are employed to achieve that goal, whether it serves justice or not. This attitude thwarts the very reason for the Rule of Law. If laws are not enforceable, they cease to exist. We have cultures around the world where justice is doled out on the basis of who you know, who your family is, or what your status is in society. This is not justice, it is cronyism. Chronic abuse, theft, loss of liberty, and the destruction of lives and property, always follow such a course.

As attorneys and experts, we have to consciously review our past opinions to ensure they align with our present ones. Laws change and situations are often different, but if we move our opinions, there must always be concrete facts or evidence, that justifies such behavior.

There may be some who feel these remarks are a threat to their livelihood and that may be true. If people are looking to escape consequences or maliciously injure another, they may not engage an attorney or expert who will not bend or misrepresent the truth. Each may find a measure of success in this path, but ultimately, their actions will erode the pedestal under Lady Justice, until she eventually topples to the earth.

Without honesty, we cannot have integrity.
Without integrity, we cannot be trusted.
If we cannot be trusted, we are of no value.

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