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Ethical Lawyering and Basketball

by former Regent Law Professor Kenny Ching
kching@dickinsonwright.com


Dean Hernandez of Regent Law can teach you something about basketball, which in turn can teach you something about being an ethical lawyer. “Mike” (as we used to call him, before he was boss) can play ball.

Mike and I played ball quite a bit, and in 2014 he coached our intramural basketball team. We had a bad year, going 3-5 and missing the playoffs. After every game, Mike would want to talk. “We need to run a full court press all game,” he’d say. “We need to stop shooting so many three-pointers.”

“I didn’t like our attitude that game.”

And sometimes I’d think, “Mike, you’re taking intramural basketball too seriously.”

But that’s how he did everything. He worked his tail off coaching moot court, preparing for classes, working on law school initiatives. He relentlessly pursued excellence, and he did it for at least twenty years at Regent – usually behind the scenes – before he became Dean. There are a lot of ethical lessons to be learned from Dean Hernandez, but I want to focus on the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Your work matters because it affects other people. When you do your work well, other people benefit. Countless Regent Law students have kudos on their resumes because Dean Hernandez put countless hours into coaching their moot court teams. Dean Hernandez’s colleagues benefited because he went to bat for them and had the credibility, skill, and tenacity to get things done. People in the community have benefitted because of Dean Hernandez’s work with educational, civic, and Christian organizations.

Doing good work has lots of benefits, but the greatest of these is loving your neighbor. As a lawyer, your work always affects people’s lives. When you do thorough research, your client gets the full benefit of the law. When you write and speak well, a judge or business person receives the benefit of clearly understanding a legal situation. When you work late to meet a deadline, you preserve people’s life, liberty, and happiness. When you’re reliable, your coworkers can trust you and focus on doing their own jobs well.

Love your neighbor. Do good work. And ask Dean Hernandez to play on your intramural team.

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