California Lawyers Must Now Swear to Be ... Nice

More specifically, show 'dignity, courtesy, and integrity'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2014 10:58 AM CDT
California Lawyers Must Now Swear to Be ... Nice
Lawyers speak with Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles, Thursday, May 1, 2014, during jury selection for the Julie Schenecker trial.   (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Skip O'Rourke, Pool)

All new lawyers in California will soon have to make an added promise when joining the bar—to be nice to one another, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Beginning May 23, the oath one takes to "faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney" will be joined by language stating the lawyer "will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity." The added language was OKed Thursday by the California Supreme Court at the urging of a former state bar president, who over his 45 years in the industry has found lawyers' bad behavior—swearing at peers, attacking each other in court filings, and bullying judges—on the rise.

The civility oath will remind lawyers that the profession isn't just about winning cases, says Patrick Kelly. But as there's no penalty for breaking said promise, legal ethics experts wonder if it will deter such conduct at all. "It’s a reminder of positive professional behavior, rather than a stick," says a court rep. The pledge may not be unique to California for long. The American Board of Trial Advocates is campaigning to take the oath nationwide, the Los Angeles Times reports. (More lawyers stories.)

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