ASL Hosts Virginia State Bar Professionalism Program
GRUNDY, VA (November 18, 2019) – The Appalachian School of Law hosted Teresa Chafin, Virginia Supreme Court Justice; and Frank Telegadas, of Allianz Worldwide Partners, on campus recently as they delivered a Virginia State Bar Professionalism for Law Students program.
Telegadas spoke on professionalism and relationships with clients while Chafin spoke about relationships with the court. Immediately following their remarks, students, led by Chafin and Telegadas participated in a discussion looking at various hypothetical situations and how to best address them professionally.
Telegadas noted attorneys serve as emissaries in the community and that in the end, “your word is your bond.”
“The best attorneys I know stay calm in a storm, shake the hand of their opponents both before and after the proceedings,” Telegadas said. “It helps your client resolve issues.”
He told students there are key things every attorney must do with a client, the first being to establish goals and expectations; communication; and to determine any financial issues. By dealing with those things up front from the start, Telegadas said, client relationships are better.
“You will get clients in a lot of different ways – from speaking engagements, from friends and family, from mentors and from classmates who need your help,” Telegadas said.
He said when a potential client first approaches an attorney, it is important to evaluate the potential case early and to figure out what one might be able to accomplish realistically.
“Clients can deal with bad news, but they can’t deal with surprises,” Telegadas said. “Constantly re-evaluate your case, explain the process and always call them back.”
He added, “your time, your brain, your thought process and analysis is what you have to give. Set a goal, but don’t be pressured into giving bad advice.”
He noted that communication is a two-way street and that the biggest cause of problems is procrastination.
On the issue of finances, he told them to review their bills before they go out and to remember that a client has a right to question a bill.
Chafin began her presentation by noting she was sure students in the room were running on a combination of caffeine and anxiety as exams approach.
“When I look around this room, I think how blessed we are to have this new generation of attorneys coming on to carry the torch for all of us,” Chafin said.
She told students their reputation follows them and goes with them everywhere they go.
“It started when you were a child and from the day you entered law school, you are a professional,” she said. “You develop a reputation through years and years, but you can lose your reputation in less than a minute.”
Bad acts, rudeness and lack of preparation are three pitfalls she cited.
She urged students to always practice civility and to carry it with them as a code for behavior.
“It all boils down to common courtesy,” she said. “Treat everyone with respect.”
She reminded students that court staff can be their best friends as attorneys. Kindness and respect, she said, can go a long way.
“Remember that character is a component of your reputation,” Chafin said. “When you are in court, you don’t have to like the judge, but you do have to show respect.”
She continued, “This is not an easy path. Practicing law is hard. I hope it’s your passion every day. I have felt privileged in my career. It is so rewarding to help people. I hope that you get up every day, proud and happy to say, ‘I am a Virginia lawyer’ or a Kentucky lawyer, or wherever you end up.”
A reception, sponsored by the Virginia State Bar, followed in the Lions Lounge.
November 18, 2019
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