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
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
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
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
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
Thank you and good luck.