(Miami Dade County Attorney's Office's Murray Greenberg's influence on the St. Thomas University School of Law).

AuthorGarcia, Alfredo
PositionIncludes discussion - Civility and Professionalism in the Law: The Road to Justice

Good morning everybody. I'm Professor Keith Rizzardi and it is my privilege to teach Professional Responsibility here at St. Thomas University, and also to begin our symposium today. I'd like to start by saying congratulations to our law review students, because I'm really proud of you for having the foresight, and the wisdom, and the maturity, to embrace this subject.

We're struggling at this time with professionalism and civility in our courtrooms and in our communities, and for you to be out in front of this issue is remarkable. We've got a great line up of speakers today, and it's my privilege to introduce the first one. Now, if you visit our St. Thomas University Law Review web page, you see this quote from John Adams, and it says, "Let us dare to read, to think, to speak, and to write," and our first speaker is somebody who adhered to Mr. Adams' advice.

He's a daring leader. He's a veracious reader. He's a deep constitutional thinker. He's a remarkable speaker in both the courtrooms and the classrooms, and he's a writer of numerous books about criminal law and our criminal justice system. A true professional, here to start our day on our professionalism, Dean Alfredo Garcia.

Dean Garcia:

I didn't know if you were talking about me. Thank you very much, and on behalf of St. Thomas University School of Law, I want to welcome all of you to this wonderful symposium. I would be remiss if I didn't start by thanking the members of the Law Review and the Editor-in-Chief, Bernie Guerra, who have done such a wonderful job of putting the symposium together.

This symposium issue will be dedicated to a special person who made wonderful and inimitable contributions to this law school, Murray Greenberg. I was fortunate to say that Murray Greenberg graced these hallways and inspired and gave his wisdom to so many students during his course of time here, as an adjunct here, at St. Thomas University School of Law.

So, I think it is appropriate and fitting that his two sons, who are here today, will be doing the foreword to this symposium issue. Ben and Jerry, if you would, stand up and be recognized. We have a wonderful program. I want to thank the Chief Judge Soto for being here today as well as Judge Wolfson, and Judge Rebull. Thank you for coming here and being part of this program.

Civility is a special issue, and professionalism is something that this school prides itself upon, and we try to weave it into the fabric of this law school, because it is important. Professionalism, after all, is what we strive to achieve on our daily, and in our profession, and in our lives so that is very important.

I wanted to start this program going to the core, the fundamentals. What is civility? In 2002, a book came out. It's entitled Choosing Civility. It is written by P. M. Forni, who is the co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project. He's a professor at Hopkins. And I picked it up, and he's got 25 rules of civility, but before he gets to those rules of civility, he defines the concept of civility.

And I think it's a concept that should underlie our daily lives, aside from civility in the profession. He says, and I quote, "Being civil means being constantly aware of others, and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness. Civility is a form of goodness. It is gracious goodness."

He identifies the crisis in civility to a crisis in authority. And he says that the reason, perhaps we aren't as civil as we should be, is that the ethic of self-discipline has been replaced by an ethic of self-esteem. I guess we live in the age of the "selfie" after all, right?

So, I think that is very apropos that today we have these wonderful participants in this program, and we thank each and every one of them, including our keynote speaker, Paul Lipton for being here, and distilling their very important wisdom on this topic. And now it is my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce one of our own, of whom we are very proud, our 2010 graduate who will introduce our keynote speaker.

Armando Hernandez is a 2010 Magna Cum Laude graduate of this law school. While in law school, he was executive editor of the law review. He served on the Moot Court Board. He was named the "Best Oralist" in the Moot Court Intramurals. He represented the school in the Gibbons Competitions. He is an attorney at Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell in Miami, focusing his practice on products liability, admiralty, premises liability, commercial litigation, constructional litigation, [and] class actions.

I think it is apropos that he is introducing the keynote speaker because he received the first ever Excellence in Professionalism Award from the 11th Judicial Circuit Court Professionalism Committee for work on that panel. He is the President of our own Peter T. Fay Inn of Court.

So, I think it is very appropriate that our distinguished graduate, who I had the honor of hooding and presenting his diploma to, back about 7 years ago, to introduce our keynote speaker. So, without further ado, I introduce to you, Armando Hernandez.

Mr. Hernandez:

Thank you Dean Garcia for those comments. Thank you to the STU faculty, the entire St. Thomas Law Review Board, and everyone else who played a role in making today a reality. This symposium all started as a fleeting idea, and it's been quite astounding to see it materialize.

I'm incredibly impressed with the talented, ambitious, and hardworking members of the Law Review Board, particularly Claudia Capdesuner, Jose Rohaidy, and Bernadette Guerra, who I worked closely with in preparing for this symposium. I'm incredibly confident in the future of the Law Review, and I'm incredibly confident in the profession because of those three individuals and the entire St. Thomas Law Review Board.

St. Thomas Law Review now joins one of very few schools in the entire country, that I'm aware of, based on my research quickly last night, that has dedicated a symposium to the vital topic of professionalism and civility. This is a very important moment for everybody present here today. It's an immense honor to be invited back to the law school to participate in such a symposium.

It's great to be a part of this movement, and join the amazing panel of judges and distinguished attorneys that we have here today. I can recall before Dean Garcia hooded me--I can recall back to my orientation when he told me to look to my left and to my right and said, "You need to be professional and civil because these are the people that you'll be working with in the future." His message continued to resonate-he talked about weaving itself and threading itself and it actually did that. It did exactly that.

It weaved itself throughout my entire law school career, through the amazing examples and mentors that we have here at St. Thomas. My time at St. Thomas laid the seeds which eventually led me to dedicating so much of my time to professionalism and civility. And those seeds were cultivated when I had the incredibly good fortune of meeting the person that I have the honor of introducing here today, which is Paul Lipton. For those of you that either know Paul, have had heard him speak, or have read his book, you already know how magnificent of a human being he his. For those of you that don't, you're in for a treat today.

By way of background, Paul was a prominent trial attorney in South Florida for 40 years, trying countless jury and non-jury trials. He retired as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig in 2012. And after retirement, he I guess was bored, and not knowing what to do with himself, he decided to join Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell as the Director of Professionalism, an incredibly unique and one of a kind position.

My first interactions with him were in this capacity as the Director of Professionalism. He would have one-on-one meetings, group meetings with the associates, and discuss things such as: the art of persuasion, work life balance, networking.

And as soon as I heard him cite Sun Tzu, The Art of War, and Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, I knew we were going to get along very well. Then, sometime in 2013, I heard about an opening to apply for the local professionalism panels, and I decided to give it a try. I was selected as an alternate, and it was a huge honor to just even be considered for the local professionalism panel.

And I recall Paul walking to my office one day after I had received notice about becoming an alternate, and he emphasized the importance of impacting the greater good, making a lasting impression, and striving for something that is bigger than me and bigger than all of us. He may not know this, but that conversation inspired me more than he'll ever know. I never looked back. I never thought twice. I really embraced the call to action and the selfless responsibility that went into serving on the local professionalism panels.

Paul's impact extends far beyond Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell. He serves on the 11th Circuit Committee on Professionalism in Miami-Dade County. He, along with Judge Soto, Judge Wolfson, and Judge Rebull, who are all here today, you will have the pleasure of hearing from, they basically spearheaded and created the local professionalism panels here in MiamiDade County.

He's also the author of the well-reviewed Hour of the Wolf: An Experiment in Ageless Living, which I've brought with me here today. He's been on nation-wide tours for this book. He's been on cruise ships, traveled the world, spreading his message. And he's also been a guest speaker at the Peter T. Fay Inns of Court, which got great reviews from the law students and the members of Inns of Court. And what I'd like to share is some wisdom from the book. In chapter 8, which is entitled: "How Does the Hero Live in a Non-Heroic Age?" I think there is a quote in that chapter that is really going to frame this symposium here today.

And Paul says, "Without heroes, the world would be left with nothing but victims, bystanders...

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