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Self-esteem, shared respect for each other, the clients we serve, the judges and the officer with whom we work, are essential to it.
Civility is a virtue, not a shortcoming. Willingness to temper zeal with respect for society’s interest in preserving responsible judicial process will help preserve it.
Unwritten rules of professional courtesy have long sustained us. Since they are sometimes forgotten, or sometimes ignored, we should set them down again and conscientiously observe them.
1. Treat with civility the lawyers, clients, opposing parties, the Court and all the officers with whom we work. Professional courtesy is compatible with vigorous advocacy and zealous representations.
2. Communications are life lines. Keep the lines open. Telephone calls and correspondence are a two-way channel; respond to them promptly.
3. Respect other lawyers’ schedules as your own. Seek agreement on meetings, depositions, hearings and trial dates. A reasonable request for a scheduling accommodation should never be unreasonable refused.
4. Be punctual in appointments, communications and in honoring scheduled appearances. Neglect and tardiness are demeaning to others and to the judicial system.
5. Procedural rules are necessary to judicial order and decorum. Be mindful that pleadings, discovery processes and motions costs time and money. They should not be needlessly used. If an adversary is entitled to something, provide it without unnecessary formalities.
6. Grant extensions of time when they are reasonable and when they will not have a material, adverse effect on your client’s interest.
7. Resolve differences through negotiation, expeditiously and without needless expense.
8. Enjoy what you are doing and the company you keep. You and the world will be better for it.
Beyond all this, the respect of our peers and the society which we serve is the ultimate measure of responsible professional conduct.