Integrity This article appeared in the July 1999 issue of the
© 1999 Massachusetts Bar Association Bret A. Cohen is associated with the Boston law firm of Todd & Weld. He concentrates his practice in employment, tort and other types of civil litigation. "The supreme quality for a leader is unquestionable integrity."
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
I have a one-word solution to all the lawyer bashing and the lack of civility among our own — integrity.
With every court appearance we attend, with every brief wewrite and with every interaction we have with our clients, opposing counsel andpeople in our offices, we have a singular opportunity to help turn the tide of popular opinion. I suggest that when we face the moment of choice — whenwe must make those daily, often difficult decisions on how to handle certain situations — that we exercise a unique human attribute.
What is the unique human attribute? It has been said that the only real difference between humans and animals is that humans can pause after a stimulus. I propose that we each begin to exercise that unique human attribute — the ability to pause each time we are faced with that moment of choice — before we act or speak. Using that attribute will allow eachof us to carefully reflect and make decisions that are sound, in good judgment and, most importantly, honest in the strictest sense of the word.
The Young Lawyers Division (soon to be the New Lawyers Section) is embarking on a new program that we hope will assist recently admitted lawyers in making good decisions. In collaboration with the recently formed Senior Lawyers Section, we intend to expand the MBA mentoring program.We will match youth and inexperience with maturity and wisdom to createrelationships that will have a positive impact on our profession. This programwill give the more senior members of the bar an opportunity to assist younglawyers and hopefully revive the era when civility was the norm.
It is my hope that this new program will assist in thecreation of new leaders who are of "unquestionable integrity."