Annual symposium emphasizes importance of ethics in the legal profession

February 10, 2022

by Cristy Lindberg

During the 21st Annual Symposium on Legal Malpractice and Ethics held in late January at the Bexar County Courthouse, attendees heard topics ranging from future policies the legal profession could implement to lawyers’ perceptions of themselves.

The event brought attention to different ethical issues facing the legal profession today and hosted 11 featured speakers, each of whom offered a unique field of expertise to share with those in attendance.  

Mike Bassett (J.D. ’87), senior partner at the Bassett Firm in Dallas and author of the book, The Man in the Ditch: A Redemption Story for Today, spoke about his personal experience with committing a major ethics violation and how he navigated getting back into the practice of law.

“Morality and ethics can get really weak when the reward for doing what is wrong and the fear of doing what is right is strong enough.”

Mike Bassett

Paula Schaefer, J.D., Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the University of Tennessee College of Law, shared her personal experiences and discussed how lawyers can learn to see themselves as caretakers, similar to medical professionals, and how this simple shift in perspective could change the way lawyers practice and are perceived in the community.

 Gregory Bischoping, J.D., an associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, proposed the idea of creating a set of ethics rules for law clerks.

The Hon. John Browning, J.D., former justice for the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, discussed the dangers of social media within the legal profession, specifically when judges express opinions on ongoing cases.

“I hope the attendees took away different techniques they can use in practice,” said event organizer Bailey Rider, third-year St. Mary’s J.D. student and editor-in-chief of the St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice and Ethics.

Attendee Luke Cleland, a second-year law student, found the symposium to be helpful and eye-opening.

“Ethics and legal malpractice are crucially important topics, especially for young people entering the legal profession,” Cleland said. “It was such a privilege to attend the symposium and learn from some of the most distinguished members of our community.”

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