In a sign of the times, New Jersey’s newest attorneys—the first in the state to take the bar exam remotely because of the pandemic—were sworn in at a virtual ceremony last week.
Remarking on the challenges the attorneys face, leaders in the legal profession who addressed the 83 attorneys also delivered messages of support and optimism.
In her address to the attorneys, New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) President Kimberly A. Yonta said they will have the support and resources of the NJSBA as they embark on a career in law that will require them “to shoulder some significant responsibilities” and follow a “moral compass…fixed on values that guide you as professional lawyers, like integrity, humility, empathy, courage and independence.”
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner extended a welcome to the newest members of the legal community before administering the oath. Prior to swearing in the group to the federal bar, U.S. District Chief Judge Freda Wolfson cautioned the attorneys they were entering the profession at a challenging time, facing crises in public health, social justice and the economy.
Those who want to be trial lawyers appearing before juries “may have to wait a bit until it’s safe to bring juries back into our courtrooms,” she added.
Yet there was plenty of reason for optimism, the speakers said. Kerri Chewning, president of Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, said the challenges the new attorneys face will make them stronger and more resilient in their practices.
Wolfson said there was plenty of legal work to be done and encouraged the new attorneys to take the day to celebrate their achievement with family and friends.
“Your entry into our bar remains a reason to celebrate…. It is an achievement that lasts a lifetime,” she said.