President's Page: Welcome, new Missouri lawyers
Vol. 77, No. 6 / Nov. - Dec. 2021
John Grimm, 2021-22 Missouri Bar president, practices with The Limbaugh Firm in Cape Girardeau.
Shortly after being sworn in as president of The Missouri Bar, I was honored to participate in the new lawyer enrollment ceremony in Jefferson City on Oct. 1, 2021. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony took place on the steps of the Missouri Capitol.
The outdoor event was a departure for many of us who took our oaths of admission inside the Supreme Court of Missouri. For most, it was our first time visiting the building. In the beautiful confines of the building, which we entered by pushing open huge, extraordinarily heavy wooden doors, we walked up the wide, marble steps to the second floor. Our group was taken to the Division 1 courtroom, with its tall ceilings and ornate furnishings. Even more impressive, seven judges and several lawyers were taking a day of their lives to speak to and celebrate with several hundred new lawyers, welcoming us with open arms and great encouragement as colleagues in this 30,000-member community.
For me, it was very daunting to be seated in the Division 1 courtroom, with my brother by my side, my mom seated in the back of the room, and my dad seated with the Court – a long-standing tradition for judges whose children have passed the bar exam. While our ceremony took place, the next group got ready in the Division 2 courtroom. The Court and other speakers went back and forth between the two courtrooms eight to 10 times until all new lawyers had been sworn in.
I remember then-Chief Justice William Billings, then-Missouri Bar President David McMahon, and then-Board of Law Examiners President David Macoubrie speaking to us new lawyers. Even though I don’t recall specifically what anyone said, I have a very clear recollection of the experience itself. And then it came time for the Oath of Admission, in which we swore that we would:
- Maintain the respect due courts of justice, judicial officers, and members of our profession;
- Conduct ourselves with dignity;
- Never mislead a judge or jury;
- Conduct ourselves in accordance with the Rules of Professional Responsibility; and
- Practice law to the best of our knowledge and abilities and with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed.
The same oath that I took in 1987 was administered by Chief Justice Paul Wilson to our newest colleagues in 2021. Fundamentally, these obligations are simple: Follow the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated), tell the truth, and do your best.
Unfortunately, the demands of client satisfaction, attracting new business, and making money may result in some lawyers bending – if not breaking – these rules from time to time. Still, I find most lawyers treat each other respectfully and appropriately, and they do a great job representing their clients.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to have been involved in quite a few cases with lawyers from other states. It is not uncommon for the out-of-state lawyers to comment on the civility and professionalism of Missouri’s lawyers. Those type of comments, as well as my own observations, reaffirm my faith in our colleagues.
I believe that will continue to be the case. Following the enrollment ceremony, I met several of our state’s newest lawyers. They were polite, enthusiastic, and excited to enter the profession. They were ready to go to work. I have every confidence that they will continue to uphold the finest traditions of professionalism and civility.
Regardless of whether one has been practicing law for 30 days or 30 years, the oath we all took binds us together throughout our careers. I welcome all our new Missouri lawyers, and I look forward to seeing the amazing work and dedication you bring to your clients and our profession.