By Bill Treuber
“An attorney’s responsibility is so great because she doesn’t serve the sentence nor pay the judgment” — Someone very wise
While having dinner with a friend and a member of your Association, Dawn Lott, and her husband, Dawn asked me, “What new venture are you doing now – other than running the title agency?” I replied I was writing a CLE program on successfully dealing with the title company and resolving exceptions. She then asked me if I would be interested in writing a series of articles for the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association newsletter. I thought about it in the time it took me to have another swallow of wine and said, “Sure”.
After a brief discussion of various topics, interests of the members, time requirements, length of the articles, etc. — I settled on the topic for this first article. It has nothing to do with any specific subject of law. It has to do with us as attorneys and the manner in which we should practice our profession and honor the oath we took.
I developed an interest in law while in college because of its pursuit of truth and justice; protecting the rights of others; the law always guiding to establish order; a calling to a higher commandment. This is law in its purest form. Perhaps to be practiced as an avocation rather than as a vocation. Lawyers, have the unique right and privilege to speak for another in a Court of Law. We protect and pursue the rights of others. No other profession has been granted this right and privilege. The practical evolution however, is that the practice of law has become a matter of “winning”. Truth and justice have become secondary objectives. As a profession, are we on a course of following the famous saying of Vincent Lombardi, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing”.
For several decades, I have taught at the undergraduate level at local colleges in their humanities, criminal justice and paralegal disciplines. In every class I distributed this commencement address delivered by Justice Benjamin Nathan Cardozo to a graduating class of Rabbinical students of the Jewish Institute of Religion in 1931. I told my classes it was not required reading, they would never be tested and they were free to choose to read it or not. Interestingly, I always knew which students read the material. Although the commencement address was given to students of religion and theology, I am convinced Cardozo also had in mind that his moral is equally true for students and practitioners of the law.
I set forth the six simple pages of Cardozo’s address. Hopefully it may rekindle the reason you became a lawyer; perhaps make you remember why the pursuit of truth and justice is one of the noblest of all professions and the requirement for integrity in living what you believe and do and honor to the profession you have chosen.
I hope you find it as revealing as I do.
William Treuber is President of New York Metro Title Agency Inc. Formerly he was a partner in the firm of Orr, Brennan & Zierler in Brooklyn and Chief Counsel to The Greater New York Savings Bank. Bill was in private practice in Smithtown and acted as Counsel to several firms. He has testified as an expert witness before the Courts and administrative and municipal boards. He authors materials for and lectures at CLE programs in the metro New York area.
Bill is a graduate of St. John’s Law School, where he was a St. Thomas More scholar and a member of the law review. He is a member of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, Suffolk County Bar Association and the American Bar Association.