When I was in law school I had the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program based in Guanajuato, Mexico. The externship's director received an invitation for all of the externs to personally meet with a local attorney in the heart of the historic district.
The attorney, Lic. J. Ignacio Reyes Retana L., spoke to us about what it means to be an attorney and what duties attach. He explained that you owe a duty not only to your current clients, but to your future clients to constantly read and be abreast as to the newest changes in the law. His lecture was inspiring and he told us of a situation where he was reading an international treatise and discovered a perfect argument to make in a local case he was working on. To make the story short, attorneys in a neighboring jurisdiction were arguing a case that was right on point with a case he was working on. He told us that though he was well-read in his local jurisprudence, the issue was novel and no attorney had litigated the issue in his jurisdiction. Were it not for his constant reading, he'd never have found the perfect argument, and would not have been able to posture his case successfully.
At the conclusion of the lecture, he gave us all a book titled "Etica Profesional Para el Ejercicio del Derecho" by Eugenio Trueba Olivares. The book discusses the duty of the lawyer in terms of his labor and encourages attorneys to focus on the client and prospective client's needs by understanding their needs and having the tools ready to serve them.
The book and lecture we received from the attorney Reyes-Retana had a great impact on my practice. I work hard to stay abreast with the newest changes in the law and make it a point not to waste time during the day when I could be reading. It is not unusual to have to wait 10-30 minutes for my cases to be called at court. I use that time to read my law journals. The American Bar Association's Divisions send me several publications a month: Proof, Criminal Justice, Litigation, Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Journal and General & Solo Practitioners. In addition, I receive periodicals from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. There is no shortage of reading materials at my office, and I've been able to mine interesting new arguments and methods from each of them.
My wish for this coming year is to have the time and patience to work through more legal periodicals, the opportunity to put it to work for my clients, and the time to share my knowledge with my colleagues. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.