On Presidents’ Day, I thought I’d share a message from Linda Klein. Attorney Klein is the current President of the American Bar Association. Her words are far better than any summary I could deliver. So, please read Attorney Klein’s President’s Message from the February edition of the ABA Journal.
President Klein’s message reminds me of Comment 4 to Rule 3.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct:
- “The advocate’s function is to present evidence and argument so that the cause may be decided according to law. Refraining from abusive or obstreperous conduct is a corollary of the advocate’s right to speak on behalf of litigants. A lawyer may stand firm against abuse by a judge but should avoid reciprocation; the judge’s default is no justification for similar dereliction by an advocate. An advocate can present the cause, protect the record for subsequent review and preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics.”
Finally, as a reminder, the Vermont Bar Association adopted Guidelines of Professional Courtesy in 1989. Here they are:
- In fulfilling his or her primary duty to the client, a lawyer must be ever conscious of the broader duty to the legal system.
- A lawyer should act with candor, diligence and utmost respect.
- A lawyer should act with courtesy and cooperation, which are necessary for the efficient administration of our system of laws.
- A lawyer should act with personal dignity and professional integrity.
- Lawyers should treat each other, their clients, the opposing parties, the courts, and members of the public with courtesy and civility and conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
- A client has no right to demand that counsel abuse the opposite party or indulge in offensive conduct. A lawyer shall always treat adverse witnesses and parties with fairness and due consideration.
- In adversary proceedings, clients are litigants and though ill feelings may exist between clients, such ill feelings should not influence a lawyer’s conduct, attitude, or demeanortowards opposing lawyers.
- A lawyer should not harass opposing counsel or counsel’s clients.
- Lawyers should be punctual in communications with others and in honoring scheduled appearances. Neglect and tardiness are demeaning to fellow lawyers and to the legal system.
- If a fellow attorney makes a just request for cooperation, or seeks scheduling accommodation, a lawyer shall not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.
- Effective advocacy does not require antagonistic or obnoxious behavior. Lawyers should adhere to the higher standard of conduct which judges, fellow attorneys, clients, and the public may rightfully expect.