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Lincoln: "Resolve to be Honest"

By Joshua R. Forest, Shareholder--

Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, an Illinois attorney, wrote in July 1850:

"Resolve to be honest at all events; and if, in your own judgment, you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.  Choose some other occupation."[1]

We believe this sentiment to be encompassed by Utah’s Standards of Professionalism and Civility governing lawyers of the Utah State Bar.  In the Preamble to Rule 14-301 it states:

A lawyer’s conduct should be characterized at all times by personal courtesy and professional integrity in the fullest sense of those terms. In fulfilling a duty to represent a client vigorously as lawyers, we must be mindful of our obligations to the administration of justice, which is a truth-seeking process designed to resolve human and societal problems in a rational, peaceful, and efficient manner. We must remain committed to the rule of law as the foundation for a just and peaceful society.

Conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile, or obstructive impedes the fundamental goal of resolving disputes rationally, peacefully, and efficiently. Such conduct tends to delay and often to deny justice.

Lawyers should exhibit courtesy, candor and cooperation in dealing with the public and participating in the legal system. The following standards are designed to encourage lawyers to meet their obligations to each other, to litigants and to the system of justice, and thereby achieve the twin goals of civility and professionalism, both of which are hallmarks of a learned profession dedicated to public service.


At Snow Jensen & Reece, we believe in being honest lawyers.  We believe in being civil and professional at all times and to all parties.  It is not only the right thing to do; in our combined experience, we have found that it is the most effective way to achieve our clients’ desired results.


[1] Notes for a lecture, “Notes on the Practice of Law,” July, 1850 as quoted in Martin, Worthy of Their Esteem.  The Timeless Words and Sage Advice of Abraham Lincoln America’s Greatest President.

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