October 15, 2003 Daniel Staesser Assistant Editor Regular News Professionalism Committee touts ethics video series Professionalism Committee touts ethics video series Assistant EditorAbout 10 years ago, Miami attorney Paul Lipton recognized some of his family members weren’t getting any younger. He wanted to do something to preserve, for his children and his children’s children, a glimpse into the life, achievements, and philosophies of people who encouraged and shaped him over the years.Then it hit him.Many of the people who had helped to shape who he had become professionally were legal legends, great legal minds and leaders, some of whom were advancing in age and had not yet been memorialized.“I saw how much it meant to my family and I wanted to do something for the legal profession,” said Lipton.That’s when Lipton took his idea to some of those he wanted to capture on video, including U.S Southern District Judge William Hoeveler. He told Judge Hoeveler the concept, and the two of them sat down with tape rolling.Lipton then took the project before The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, and showed a brief part of the video.“They were just enthralled,” said Lipton, who would become a member of the committee and his project a representation of the ideals of the committee. The videos became the Bar’s Professionalism Center’s Historical Video Series.“The concept was always one of sitting down with people you would love to sit down with for a cup of coffee and just have a pleasant conversation.”Pleasant, but poignant. Who are you? How did you get to be who you are? Why the law?Lipton asked questions to which all responses varied, but one universal thread ran throughout — a thread he referred to as a sort of sense of humanity.“These are not just judges or lawyers, but they feel that they are a part of a larger process, a universal process,” said Lipton, who explained the spiritual connection that many of his interviewees had eluded to.“[For them] it’s not about you and me. It’s not about paying the bills — it’s about a purpose on a grand scale.”Lipton, whose idea has been carried on by the standing committee, said he has become a better person because of the example set by these mentors. He noted among his favorite interviewees Judges David Dyer, Lenore Nesbitt, and Rosemary Barkett, the latter of whom he remembered advising that “a young lawyer can contend without being contentious.”“These are people that are generous and thoughtful, and they make a difference in the most positive way,” said Lipton, who says that upon seeing the videos, viewers will walk away with a greater sense of the importance of law.Robert Fiore, vice chair of the Standing Committee on Professionalism, said the historical video series is a great way to recognize and pass down “the invaluable wisdom of the true giants of the profession.”Fiore, who has helped to continue Lipton’s vision, said that many of these legends’ teachings go far beyond the practice of law, mentoring young lawyers on how to become outstanding human beings.Moved by the responses, Lipton wanted a feel not only for the professional, the lawyer, the judge, that he interviewed, but also for the person and their philosophy on life.“I always liked to ask things like, ‘When it is your darkest hour and things just haven’t gone right, what gives you strength?’”“I’ve found that when that happens, I look at the spiritual connection,” said Lipton. “[I think] that this is all part of a cycle, like a hurricane, and that if I can just stay in the calm of the eye of the storm I can handle it, as opposed to being one of those people being blown around.”“Professionalism has come a long way,” said Fiore. “We intend to continue this for as long as it takes.”The 37-video collection, each of which is approved for one hour of professionalism CLE credit, and which includes an interview with the late Chesterfield Smith, can be ordered from the Center for Professionalism’s Web site by going to www.flabar.org, clicking on the professionalism link on the left hand side, and scrolling down to Historical Video Series. The videos sell for $35.