In a speech to the spring 2012 graduating class of the University of Miami School of Law, Judge Adalberto Jose Jordán Jr., who presides over the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, said the law profession is "a noble one, but sometimes you wouldn't know it from seeing how lawyers are perceived."
Jordán, who graduated from Miami Law in 1987, told the graduates in Saturday's commencement ceremony that, while there are various reasons for the sometimes negative perception of lawyers, some members of the profession have brought such disapproval on themselves by their conduct.
"No case, no client, and no cause is worth losing your reputation and doing something that you know is wrong," Jordán said in his "advice to graduates" speech. "If you hear a little voice inside your head telling you to hesitate, do not go forward. Stop, think and, if possible, go to someone you know and trust. Get advice."
Once an "ethical Rubicon" has been crossed, he said, there is no turning back, and the likelihood of future ethical lapses becomes greater.
Jordán recalled his own graduation from Miami Law 25 years ago, at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami, and said that the law school remains "very special to me."
"I have always felt that I received an excellent legal education at Miami Law," said Jordán, who has been an adjunct professor at Miami Law since 1990 and is a member of the school's visiting committee.
Jordán is the first Cuban-born judge to hold a seat on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which decides the major federal legal disputes of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Nominating Jordán to the post in August 2011, President Obama said Jordán would "bring an unwavering commitment to fairness and judicial integrity to the federal bench," and that his "impressive legal career is a testament to the kind of thoughtful and diligent judge he will be on the Eleventh Circuit."