Deborah Letz / January 29, 2013

Pledging allegiance to politeness

Lawyers have a reputation for being argumentative and aggressive. While the practice of law is almost by its very nature adversarial, some feel that the “good guys v. bad guys” approach has gone too far.

The Wall Street Journal documented a group of lawyers who want to bring civility back to the courtroom. Though the group featured in the article and video presented their platform in a humorous way (a musical revue!), some bars have already implemented one of the suggestions: civility codes or oaths. The American Board of Trial Advocates lists bars that have included civility oaths. Since the list’s publication, Arkansas has also included a civility pledge in its Attorney Oath of Admissions.

And in case you’re wondering whether such a civility oath violates the First Amendment, at least one court has said no. In the case In re Anonymous Member of the South Carolina Bar, 392 S.C. 328 (S.C. 2011), the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against the respondent’s challenge to the constitutionality of such a pledge.

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