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State Bar To Consider Civility Pledge For Lawyers

Publication Date: 
October 07, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode comments on the proposed addition of a civility pledge to the oath taken by new CA attorneys in an article by The San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko.

State Bar President Patrick Kelly has been a trial lawyer for almost 45 years. One thing that's changed during that period, he says, is that lawyers - not all or most of them, but enough to notice - don't treat each other as well as they used to.

"There has been an erosion among lawyers in civility and courtesy in their conduct with one another," said the Los Angeles attorney.


There's nothing wrong with the proposed language, but "we're deluding ourselves if we think this is going to provide a meaningful deterrent to lawyers who are uncivil," said Deborah Rhode, a Stanford law professor now on temporary assignment at Yale.

Some lawyers act that way by nature, she said, while others calculate that a take-no-prisoners attitude will help their client by making things less convenient or more expensive for their adversary. A more practical remedy, Rhode said, is for judges to start cracking down on abusive pretrial tactics, which she said are seldom grounds for punishment and are rarely if ever reported to the bar.