in pro f e s s i o n a l i s m
Richard Heaton Chief Legal Officer, Hines
suppose it might be obvious for one to say that professionalism means doing and being those things that enhance the stature of the profession. Attributes like respect, courtesy, fairness, integrity, loyalty to principle, dedication and taking pride in excellence. These values are self-evident to most attorneys, but we sometimes compromise in these areas, perhaps thinking that it will result in short term gains. However, consistent striving to live these ideals will result in the greatest benefit and personal satisfaction over the long run. As I think about professionalism, I ask myself: “Do others want to be a better professional because of their interactions with me?” While exhibiting professionalism can lead to success in legal practice, some of the most satisfying experiences for me as a professional have been the ability to help others —often just one person. Securing a visa for a victim of human trafficking, providing family budget counseling, mentoring another lawyer… What an opportunity for good our profession has by using skills honed and developed in the practice of law! Interestingly, many of the attributes we use to describe professionalism are expressed in relation to others—such as courtesy, respect and fairness. Beyond negotiating a contract successfully or securing a courtroom victory, we who practice the legal profession can use the privileges and opportunities we’ve received to lift others. Working at Hines for the last eight years, I have seen professionalism in action. Our late founder Gerald D. Hines instilled in the firm the values of striving for the best, quality in all we do, integrity and always doing the right thing. By working in this way, Hines has made communities like Houston better places to work and live. It is important to us that we leave them better than when we started. By seeking to use the skills, attributes and opportunities we have as professionals to help others, we leave the profession a better place; leave the community a better place; and leave the world a better place.