Law school begins professionalism program with retreat

Law School News, September 16, 2014

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The inaugural 1L Professionalism and Leadership Program by The Dyer Professionalism Endowment prepares 1Ls for a successful and fulfilling career in law through a series of workshops, lectures, small group lunches and hands-on activities.

The program began last Friday for all interested 1L students, with the inaugural 1L Professionalism Retreat. It was a chance to “step back from intense day-to-day classroom activity, and instead reflect,” as Dean Andy Morriss said in his opening remarks.

Judge David L. Evans, 48th Judicial District Court in Tarrant County, addressed the group in his remarks at lunch at the Sheraton. He spoke about the Texas Lawyer’s Creed.

“The Creed was developed as the standard of good lawyers and enemy of the bad,” Evans said. Each 1L in attendance received a personalized Lawyer’s Creed.

Evans has been involved with the law for the past 38 years. He is board certified in civil appellate law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Texas and U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas. His closing remarks to the students resonated well, and many enjoyed the experience of interacting with others outside their usual writing group.

1L Tayler Bolton said her favorite part of the retreat was listening to the speakers and hearing their experiences.

“It was valuable to hear a perspective from people who have had experience in the field of law. The insights on ethics calls and insights from the DA’s office were very helpful,” she said. She also enjoyed sharing in small group interactions so she could hear others’ perspectives on issues and challenge herself to rethink her own views.

Other invited facilitators and speakers included:

  • Patti Gearhart Turner – Chief of Staff/General Counsel and Interim Vice President of Advancement – Texas Wesleyan University
  • Jack V. Strickland – Deputy Chief District Attorney of Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office
  • Roland K. Johnson – Attorney and State Bar President, 2009-2010
  • Cynthia Alkon – Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law
  • Peter Reilly – Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law

“The benefit of doing the right thing always outweighs the cost,” Evans said to the students. “The law will give you a good living, but it will also give you a sense of contribution to your community and your fellow citizens.”

Students got the opportunity to practice listening, engaging and talking through small group discussion in exchanging thoughts on a lawyer’s dilemma.

The retreat offered perspectives, “from a group of extraordinary people,” according to Vice Dean Aric Short. “(They are) a top notch and wise counsel who (have joined us) for a day of reflection.”

At the day’s end, students wrote a short letter to themselves as a 3L about what they hope to achieve at the end of their law school career. The letters will be returned to the students at the end of their 3L year.