Character is pretty important in the legal profession. Recently, in the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, an attorney for a residential mortgage lender lied to the Court on several issues. They may have seemed like small, distracting issues to the attorney, but the court was pretty upset. The name of the case is In re Hill, Case No. 01-22574. The court considered what punishment to give the attorney. One common punishment for ethical violations is mandatory continuing legal education on ethics. But the court decided not to do that, reasoning as follows:
Character is something that is engrained over a lifetime of making right choices, not something that you learn in summer school or in a 2-hour Ethics CLE. OBCL understands that and looks for applicants who are already in the process of engraining that character in their lives. Once in law school, OBCL does everything it can to promote the growth in character in the lives of its students.
The Court also rules out any requirement for mandatory CLE or ethical training. As indicated at the hearing, the essence of the Rule is a lack of honesty. The Court does not believe it is necessary to undertake training in order to know that dishonesty is wrong despite the potential consequences of telling the truth. Honesty and truthfulness are matters of character that cannot be taught, if at all, in a few hours of CLE training.