The Integrity Standard

The following blog post was written by Sydney Coelho, Regent J.D. Class of 2022:

In the mid-17th century, a few years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a series of political letters penned under the pseudonym Junius were published in the Public Advertiser (a.k.a. London Daily Post). In those letters, Junius wrote that “[t]he integrity of men is to be measured by their conduct, not the profession." While this may and should be true for the general public, for those of us who have chosen a profession where we become a pillar of the community, this standard doesn’t seem to apply. As a role model, we are measured by our conduct, but that very same measurement is also a reflection of our profession.

Integrity. This word carries with it a concept that is drilled into us from day one of our legal pursuits, and will continued to be expounded upon throughout our legal careers. ABA Model Rule 8.4: Misconduct, sometimes referred to as the Integrity Rule, at its core reflects the very weight placed upon our shoulders through its list of acts that would be considered professional misconduct. Simply put, those who lack integrity will, by default, perform such acts. These guidelines (or rules as one might say) not only define the integrity of the profession, but also who we become as practicing professionals and as human beings. But what about beyond the rules? Surely, we, as legal professionals, are more than our profession. Junius believed it, and so do I.

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 10:9 that, “[w]hoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (ESV). Integrity, in other words, is associated with the righteous; with those of high character and morals. Better yet, as this Forbes article puts it, integrity is the core values of our choices and influences. As a result, similar standards of integrity are what we look for in those around us. This is especially true about leaders and role models.

As legal professionals, whether we like it or not, our standards of integrity will be scrutinized so long as we remain in the profession. Lawyers are leaders. Because of this, and for their own health and well-being, they must not only understand the values of the profession, but also their own core values. Why? Because it is our values that shape how we deal with ethical conflicts. For it is when those values are conflicted or forced into compromising situations that a lawyer will be most tested spiritually.

So what are your core values and how do you determine them? Check out the blog next month to find out more.