Tougher Measures for a Continued Lack of Civility

October 27, 2014 Published Work
The National Law Journal

For years, courts and bar organizations have grappled with the decline in civility among lawyers. Courts increasingly have adopted explicit rules requiring civility and searched for effective ways to enforce those requirements.

Civility is hardly a new concept in the profession. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct make it a violation to "engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice." The Preamble to the Rules states that lawyers must resolve conflicts that arise in practice "while maintaining a professional, courteous, and civil attitude toward all persons in the legal system."

In 1996, the Conference of Chief Justices adopted a resolution calling for the high courts in each state to take the lead in encouraging professionalism among attorneys. Many states established professionalism commissions in response. A number of states, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and North Carolina, have established peer-review panels to hear complaints about violations of standards of civility and professionalism.