Civility in the Practice of Law: How the Legal Profession Can Do Better


Civility is defined as something said or done in a formally polite way. In court, it is a professional obligation: ABA Model Rules, Rule of Professional Conduct 3.5 states that lawyers may not "engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal," with related commentary saying that lawyers and judges alike can "preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics." Yet many people involved in litigation know that civility at trail can be rare -- for example, in emotional family law cases involving divorce and custody. A lack of civility among the lawyers, parties, and the judges, too often makes issues in dispute unnecessarily difficult to solve.

Originally published in the July/August, 2013 issue of the national publication, The Bencher, The Magazine of the American Inns of Court.

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