Cal. Litig. 2022, Volume 35, Number 1

Civility in the Legal Profession: It’s Up to Us to Save It

By J. Kevin Morrison

Have you noticed a decline in civility in your law practice over the recent past? If so, you are not alone. Many observers have commented, written, and spoken on civility’s decline in the legal profession. Even the courts have joined the ever-louder chorus. Judicial commentary on the lack of civility in our profession can be found in many cases, including LaSalle v. Vogel (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 127; Lossing v. Superior Court (1989) 207 Cal. App.3d 635; DeRose v. Huerlin (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 158; and Kim v. Westmoore Partners, Inc. (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 267. Aptly, Justice William Bedsworth observed: "Courts have had to urge counsel to turn down the heat on their litigation zeitgeist far too often. And while the factual scenarios of these cases differ, they are all variations on a theme of incivility that the bench has been decrying for decades, with very little success." (LaSalle, at p. 134.)

This article will assess how the evolution in technology, the fractured political and media climate, and the pandemic have each affected civility in the legal profession. It will conclude with a discussion of an effort by an organization of trial attorneys to improve the climate.


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