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Admission of Attorneys to the Bar
Supreme Court
November 5, 2007

Remarks of Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn
of the Connecticut Appellate Court

Justice Sullivan, my colleagues on the Appellate Court, Chief Court Administrator Barbara Quinn, Judges of the Superior Court, our new admittees, and the many other family members and friends who are with you today, welcome.

Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn

Biography of Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn

As I speak, Chief Justice Rogers and other members of our Supreme Court are occupied with other official emergency statutory duties today and could not be with us as planned, but I know that I speak for them and for all of us when I extend a warm welcome to you all on this important sunny Autumn day in Hartford.

Former Chief Justice Sullivan, we are honored to have you preside. You have given the people long service on the Superior Court as a trial judge, and on the Appellate and Supreme Courts hearing appeals. Under your tenure as Chief Justice, you worked closely with your Justice Commission and thousands of court cases vanished from what had been the clogged dockets of our civil courts. Under your tenure, you addressed the budgetary needs of our thirteen Judicial law libraries and vastly improved the collections of both criminal and civil treatises and research materials for all of the people of our State. With Justice Zarella, you involved our Supreme Court directly in these admission ceremonies. For these and your many other accomplishments, we say a heartfelt thank you. Let me first congratulate all of the new admittees to the Connecticut Bar. You have worked long and hard to be here today and to begin the practice of your profession. We thank the Bar Admissions Committee of the Superior Court and Chairman Beckwith for your long service to the Bar. To the candidates, your passage of the bar examination is important because it serves the public interest to know that you have demonstrated the minimum competency necessary to practice law. You now begin the journey through what will be your practice of the profession. I ask all to join me in a round of applause for you. Law school is arduous, but it could not be completed without the moral and financial support of family and friends. I ask the new admittees to stand and join me in giving a hand to your family members and friends whose support made this possible.

Your law school days are over, but your learning must never stop.

Law is a learned profession, and like teaching, medicine, nursing, accounting, the clergy and other learned callings, the process of learning continues through your career.

Unlike the other learned professions, those who practice law have little influence on the training for lawyers and, as a result, when you emerge from law school, there is a lot to learn about practicing law. There are those who would make a cottage industry or major business out of continuing education and entreat the courts to mandate their particular curriculum with its attendant expense. However, the best educational continuum is self directed and geared by the practitioner to the needs of his clients. Many of you leave law school saddled with great college and law school debt.

Connecticut's Judicial Branch understands this and for the past two years has provided a free program offered at three locations throughout the state by our professional law librarians. This program, directed by Faith P. Arkin and Maureen Well, will acquaint you with the basic books and treatises that you will need to know how to use in your practice, as well as digital materials which you will need to access from databases. I urge you to take advantage of this and never stop learning.

Let me turn for a moment to the significance of your attorneys' oath. Its words are not hollow utterances, to be said once and then forgotten. This oath should be a fine guide to how you practice law. You promise you will do no thing dishonest, or permit it to be done. Remember Polonius' advice to Laertes, "This above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." To thine own self be true. Remember the sacrifices you and your family made to get here. The man who asks you to do something wrong is never your friend. No one has the right to ask you to violate your oath by doing anything dishonest.

Remember your duties to the court—if you make a representation to a judge make sure that you know that it is true. Remember your oath to faithfully exercise your duties in a manner both faithful to your client and the court, a sometimes difficult balance.

Put your client's interest before your own. You cannot let self interest collide with your duty to your client. Writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Ambrose Bierce have complained about the laws' delay. Delay no man's or woman's case for malice or lucre.

Live your life by some common sense rules.
Keep other interests in life so that the practice does not degenerate into drudgery.
Leave time for your family.
Spend less than you make.
Treat your client's money as a special trust.
Be faithful to your client's cause and keep your client's confidences.
Do not exalt the making of money beyond what your need and reason requires, lest your pockets be filled, but your spirit be impoverished.

Remember that at one time or another, all of us have flown with a broken wing. Clients will come to you because they have legal troubles. Their liberty, property, or children's best interest may be in jeopardy. Your job is to see that any punishment fits the crime, and the civil remedy fits the wrong. Understand that your clients rely on you to be their advocate. Understand this, and you will not only be an attorney, but a trusted counselor at law.

Let me emphasize, you will be advocates.

As advocates, your job is to make your arguments clear enough so that they drop easily into the judge's and jury's hands. You must know the facts. There are few issues that cannot be capsulated. People who write the syllabi for our appellate decisions in written form and those who write head notes for the Atlantic Reporter know how to do this. The best lawyers know how to be epigrammatic too, not only in their briefs, but also when they stand up to argue.

Whatever the nature of your case, do not ignore precedents that apply even though they arose from a different kind of case. I can recall involvement in a case many years ago, which went to our Supreme Court on a reservation, where the point got driven home to me that the law is not so compartmentalized that the case law from one branch of it cannot inform another. There may be cases from the criminal or domestic fields that expose some principle of law useful to the fair disposition of a civil case. I was arguing a case that had gone to our Supreme Court on a reservation many years ago, when a great lawyer, the late Judge Thomas Keyes, taught me that lesson. Our claim was that the then governor had vetoed a bill in an unconstitutional manner by first exercising a partial veto and then a contingent veto of the entire bill if his partial veto was deemed invalid. Tom Keyes gave me a case on marriage annulments that turned on the principle of the effect of something that was void ab initio as opposed to being merely voidable. I used it in my argument because the principle applied. The Supreme Court ruled that the veto was unconstitutionally exercised using the reasoning of that annulment case. It ruled that the veto was void and ineffective ab initio and that therefore the bill had become law.

In one of the last trials I presided over in the civil courts, a skilled and imaginative lawyer, John Jessup, trying a medical malpractice case, was able to admit a document into evidence for substantive purposes, using all of the authority of State v. Whelan, a criminal case.

Enough talk about advice for the future, this beautiful Fall day is one to be savored and enjoyed! It has been said that there is nothing worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends. You have achieved much; enjoy this day with family and friends. As you continue your career journey, may fulfillment and contentment be your constant companions.

Thank you and good luck.

 

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