The following are topics that the mentor and mentee might consider discussing regarding issues of incivility in the legal profession.
- What does “civility” mean in the context of the legal profession? How is it different from the dictionary definition of “politeness”? Read Professional Attitude from the ABA Journal and consider how Justice Kennedy defines “civility”: http://tinyurl.com/mx38nvb.
- What types of uncivil or unprofessional behavior do lawyers most frequently encounter? How serious is the problem and has it changed over time?
- How are lawyers dealing with unprofessional behavior when they encounter it? What did you learn in law school about dealing with unprofessional behavior?
- What are the causes of incivility? Discuss the driving factors behind incivility and how these may be encountered and neutralized in practice. Consider some of these examples:
- Client expectations based on how lawyers are portrayed in the media and entertainment,
- Increased competition among growing numbers of lawyers,
- Dissatisfaction of attorneys with their work or profession,
- A generally negative perception of lawyers by the public,
- Overburdened and overworked court systems,
- Abuse of the discovery process, and
- Belief that civil behavior may be perceived by an opposing party as weakness.
- Share with the new lawyer stories of attorneys who have ultimately harmed their client because of their incivility and lack of consideration in dealing with opposing counsel, the judge, or the jury.
Richard L. Gabriel, Professionalism in Today’s Competitive Legal Market, 39 Colo. Law. 65 (June 2010).
Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) Mentoring Resource Center can be found on the CAMP website, http://mentoringcolorado.org/mentoring-resources/mentoring-literature.
Colorado Bar Association Professionalism Coordinating Councils at the CBA Website, http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20094/CCRL/Professionalism-Coordinating-Council/.
CLE Colorado, Inc. “Practicing with Professionalism,” http://cle.cobar.org/Seminars/EventInfo/sessionaltcd/PC022714V.aspx.