The Atticus Challenge

atticus.jpgOne of the joys of private practice is that I get constantly peppered with mail from the local bar associations asking me to join this or that group or threatening me with dire professional consequences if I don’t get my CLE all done on time. A recent flyer from the Virginia Bar Association, however, has risen to a new level of non-sequitor advertising in professional junk mail. This is what the front page of the flyer says, word for word:

The Atticus Challenge

Did you know that…

Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird is the most famous movie hero of all time?


Because he is the paradigm gentleman, father, citizen, public servant and lawyer

“Stand up Miss Jean Louise, your father’s passin.”

Every lawyer should be so respect as to have something like that said about him or her.

What would Atticus do?

Atticus would be a member of the Virginia Bar Association and challenge all Virginia lawyers to give of their time and talent to volunteer bar services — because it is our duty and our heritage.

Answer Atticus’ Challenge

Become a lifelong and active member of the Virginia Bar Association and encourage at least one other lawyer to join.

I am not quite sure where to begin or what to say, other than “What the @#$$%?!” To be sure Atticus was a laudable hero (in a book before a movie, by the way), and I am sure that lawyers would do well to strive to emulate his better points. I am at a loss, however, to see what that has to do with becoming a member of the Virginia Bar Association (which is different, by the way, from the Virginia State Bar, the licensing authority for attorneys in the Commonwealth). As I recall Atticus’ great virtues lay in his honest and willingness to represent an unpopular client who was falsely accused. He stood up against racial bigotry, spoke truth to power, and seems to have been a good daddy to Scout into the bargain. I don’t recall, however, the part of the story where he proudly joined one of the state’s lawyer clubs…

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6 Responses

  1. “Every lawyer should be so respect as to have something like that said about him or her.”

    If the typo is in the original, well, that would make it all the more precious…

  2. DML says:

    so old fashioned. so virginia. instead of indicating with data or other persuasive argument why volunteer attorneys are necessary, an appeal to a 1950’s southern ‘gentleman’ ideal. “stand up . . . your father’s passin'”?

    and “most famous movie hero of all time”? what about darth vader (who is also a more realistic role model)? it may be worth joining just to see what they come up with next.

  3. Dave! says:

    Wait… Darth Vader was the *hero*?? Damn. A year and a half of law school and I’m *still* obviously not thinking like a lawyer. 🙂

  4. Anon says:

    Atticus Finch was an Alabaman. Therefore it is unlikely he woudl have joined the Virginia Bar Association.

  5. John Jenkins says:

    The true lawyer’s role model from Star Wars is obviously Obi-wan: “these aren’t the discoverable documents you’re looking for.”

  6. Melis says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird is an excellent book and Atticus Finch, although a fictional character, is an outstanding role model.