Justice Quince talks about professionalism

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  • | 12:00 p.m. February 12, 2007
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by Liz Daube

Staff Writer

Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince spoke about professionalism at the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association’s monthly meeting Wednesday at River City Brewing Company.

“I don’t want ‘nice [lawyer]’ to be an oxymoron,” said Quince, who is the first black woman appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. She was appointed in 1998.

She said three issues need to be addressed for the sake of the legal profession: attorney behavior, pro bono work and diversity.

Quince said she thinks attorneys should keep their professional codes in mind at all times. She’s trying to develop a framed code for attorneys to place on their office walls to remind them of classic legal ethics, such as “My word is my bond.”

She proceeded to list several examples of Florida lawyers who have not lived up to such codes. One suppressed unfavorable documents; another created fake letters to cover a vital mistake. Both were disbarred.

“The worst thing you can do is try to falisfy a document to cover yourself,” said Quince. “It’s not going to work.”

Beyond living up to basic ethical and professional codes, Quince said, attorneys should go out of their way to provide pro bono services. She added those volunteer hours need to increase and be reported because the public perceives lawyers as greedy and selfish.

“The level of pro bono service has stagnated [in Florida] because hours haven’t increased in proportion to the number of lawyers,” said Quince.

She said female and minority lawyers shouldn’t complain about the same people getting leadership positions again and again, but try to diversify the profession by extending themselves.

“Put your name out there and make yourself available,” said Quince. “The Bar can only be as inclusive as you will allow it to be.”

Other news from the meeting:

• JWLA member and Terrell Hogan attorney Leslie Goller asked for support in seeking City Council incumbent Art Shad’s seat. Patricia Dodson, JWLA president and Terrell Hogan attorney, added that she’s been “appalled by the lack of courtesy given to our citizens by our Council members.” She said Jacksonville “needs more professionals in politics” and attorneys should consider running or backing other candidates from the legal field.

• Quince has worked in law for decades, but she started in science. She received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University in zoology.

• The next JWLA meeting will be March 7 at noon in River City Brewing Company. Doris Weatherford, an author and expert on women’s history, will speak at the luncheon. March is Women’s History Month.



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