Our last blog post focused on “Starting with Why”: recognizing the importance of keeping our “WHY” as the foundation for what we do. The CCCE Mission Statement and Motto remind us that the mock trial program seeks to create engaged citizens who gain important academic and life skills while learning to value our trial-by-jury system.
All too often, attorneys are portrayed by the media in a very negative light, leading members of the public to distrust legal professionals or question their motives. In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey addresses the enormously damaging effect of a loss of trust on business and personal relationships, noting that a lack of trust causes increased stress and reduced effectiveness in both work and personal arenas. Covey describes “13 Behaviors of High Trust Leaders,” many of which correspond strongly with the legal Professional Rules of Conduct. For example, consider the following:
Talk Straight: Be honest. Demonstrate Integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts.
Demonstrate Concern: Genuinely care for others, especially those who can’t do anything for you.
Right Wrongs: Demonstrate personal humility. Do the right thing.
Get Better: Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems. Act upon the feedback you receive.
Practice Accountability: Take responsibility for results. Don’t blame others when things go wrong.
Keep Commitments: Say what you are going to do, and then do it; keep commitments at all costs.
These principles form the foundation of the legal profession: integrity, accountability, concern for others, and a desire to “right wrongs” underlies much of the work that attorneys do. Too often the public does not recognize this truth. But as long-time Charlotte Regional sponsor Mark Sumwalt so aptly notes, by investing in the mock trial program, legal firms and professionals not only positively impact the lives of countless students across North Carolina, they also build bridge of trust between the legal profession and members of the public.
Mark relates, “I got involved in Mock Trial early on because (1) Becky [Rebecca Britton] asked me to and I have never been able to tell her no and (2) I believed it was the best program that our organization offered that attempted to make a difference in the community and the public image of our profession. My firm began sponsoring the regionals I think the very first year that sponsorships were introduced in the early 2000s and have sponsored them every year since. I became more actively involved during my year as President in 2003-2004 because Nationals was hosted in Charlotte in 2005. I enjoyed assisting in the arrangements to secure the courthouse and Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the festivities for the students, attending the banquet, and attending the final round with Allen Bailey.
“I have been a judge or juror almost every year it has been held and thoroughly enjoy this involvement. I continue to stay involved for a number of reasons. First, the benefit to the students is substantial. It helps them overcome their fear of public speaking, think on their feet, and plant the seed that they can do anything in life to which they commit. Second, it remains the best thing that our organization does for the public image of our profession. I wish other organizations would be involved for the same reason. Finally, it is a way to give back to the community and it is individually rewarding. The appreciation expressed by the students, parents, advisors, etc. is inspiring and reminds me that we are making a difference at least in the lives of those participating.”
This year, each monthly mock trial newsletter will highlight several of our program sponsors and volunteers, both to thank them and honor their service, and to inspire others to invest time in ‘creating tomorrow’s leaders.” You can access the newsletters at NCAJ newsletters.