Barred!

The American legal system was a new discovery for me when DB started his law studies.  I had grown up with Roman-Dutch law, which has Advocates (the equivalent of a Barrister in England) arguing cases before judges, and Attorneys (a Solicitor) dealing with wills, testaments and all that side of the law.  Here, I discovered, every lawyer has to be qualified as a Doctor of Jurisprudence and, once he or she has been admitted to the bar of a specific district, they can, like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, do everything from “making somebody’s will so airtight can’t anybody meddle with it” to defending Tom Robinson in court.  The key thing, though, is that you have to be a barred attorney in order to practice.  It was DB’s turn to be admitted to the DC bar last Monday in the DC Court of Appeals.

That’s a statue of Lincoln outside the court-house.  Unlike the day when this picture was taken, it was a rainy day last Monday but even that couldn’t dampen the excitement of it all.  There were probably about 30 people being sworn into the DC bar during the 10 AM ceremony and, in some ways, it reminded me of my swearing-in as a US citizen – there was a wonderful sense of occasion about it.  It was formal court session so we all had to rise as the three judges filed in.  The motion to admit the new members was presented to the judges, who accepted it and the Clerk of the Court then administered the oath. 

I,___ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as a member of the Bar of this court, I will demean myself uprightly and according to law; and that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America.

The new attorneys were congratulated and welcomed to the DC bar as colleagues, and the senior judge gave a fairly impassioned talk about the importance of pro bono work, for which the District has a good reputation. There were two other swearing-in ceremonies that day but there was never any sense of this being just another swearing-in.  I love the way America gives due deference to this kind of occasion.

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