On Friday, May 21st, the Honorable John A. Parkins, Jr.
of Delaware’s Superior Court delivered the 11th Annual E. John Wherry, Jr. Distinguished Lecture on Trial Advocacy and Professionalism to students in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program
on the Delaware campus.
Professor John F. Nivala
, Director of Widener Law’s Taishoff Advocacy, Technology & Public Service Institute
, opened the lecture by congratulating the students on a strong week of work in the ITAP program. He also thanked former professor E. John Wherry, Jr., who passed away this past March
, for his influence in launching the ITAP program and continuing to support it long after he left Widener Law.
“I want to tell you that I’m immensely proud of my association with Widener,” opened Judge Parkins, adding, “So much so that I married a Widener graduate a few years ago.” Before opening his lecture on professionalism, Judge Parkins gave the students some advice for the mock trials they would be conducting the next day. He told them, “Good speakers speak slowly,” and he encouraged them to believe in themselves.
Judge Parkins instructed the students on the values that make a professional, citing integrity, compassion, learning, civility, diligence, and public service, but he also made a point to tell the student audience about why they should strive to be professionals. “You owe it to those who have brought you this far,” he said of the necessity of professionalism, citing family and instructors as examples before adding, “You owe it to your profession,” and, “You owe it to yourself.”
Using a golf metaphor through his talk, Judge Parkins described the beginning of a legal career as setting up the tee on the first hole. Noting that he was on the back nine of his own career, he told the assembled students that he envied them the journey that they would soon embark on. He ended his talk by imploring those in attendance to “Treat those who work with you with respect,” and he encouraged them to take on public service, adding, “A professional is a leader in his or her community.”
Judge John A. Parkins, Jr. graduated from the University of Delaware and earned his J.D. with honors from Washington and Lee University School of Law. He served as an Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review before graduating. He clerked Chief Justices Daniel F. Wolcott and Daniel L. Herrmann of the Delaware Supreme Court. Judge Parkins served with the Delaware Department of Justice as a trial attorney and later became Chief of the Department’s appeals division before entering private practice with Richards, Layton & Finger. In 2008, the Governor Rauth Ann Minner appointed Parkins to the Superior Court of Delaware. A resident of Newark, Judge Parkins also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Widener Law.