Presented by Reid Miller and Constance Yu, Lawyers Club of San Francisco Inn of Court
Summary of Abstract:
In an age of tweets, viral videos, and shareable content, words often echo well beyond their intended audience and context. Hostile communication, ad hominem attacks, and gratuitously inflammatory language once thought to be shocking or offensive now seems almost commonplace – invading public discourse in some of our most venerable governmental institutions, mainstream journalism, and professional and corporate culture. An urgency exists to restore civility, a code of decency that characterizes a civilized society, in our every day lives.
With many professional organizations seeking to develop and/or enhance civility guidelines in the legal profession (state and local bar associations, commissions on professionalism established by state supreme courts, ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct), defining “civility” – an impossibly subjective more of behavior – within potentially competing regimes that mandate exemplary conduct in lawyers’ professional and personal lives is crucial if the effort to elevate the level of professionalism is to be meaningful.
This article serves to explore some of the most thorny questions of this emerging effort to guide lawyers to maintain zealous advocacy for their clients but not to tarnish the public’s trust in the integrity of legal institutions in modern society, which is witnessing an unprecedented rise in pugnacious rhetoric in mainstream media and even increased physical violence in people’s everyday lives.
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