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Civility Starts at Home

Like charity, civility in the legal profession starts from home. At least, that's the approach that's being taken by the firms described in this article, At Firms With 'No Jerks' Rules, Abusive Attorneys Need Not Apply (10/17/07). According to the article, some law firms are attempting to promote a "jerk-free" environment and are cracking down on abusive lawyers regardless of how many hours they bill or how much business they generate. For example, at Perkins Coie, the firm has developed an internal policy for addressing negative incidents, providing a mechanism for attorneys or staff to raise a complaint in human resources. And at Duane Morris, partners who are abusive with co-workers or territorial with clients "have seen their leadership roles diminished or taken away and in some cases were asked to leave the firm."

I'm not confident that firms will stand firm in their conviction to penalize abusive partners who have a big book of business -- though at a minimum, they may find ways to insulate staff from the abuse. And I'm also not sure that associates will report abusive conduct, fearing repercussions. Still, if the legal profession wants to address civility in the legal profession, one logical place to begin is by looking to ourselves. (Indeed, this People's Court judge who flew off the handle at an, admittedly, obnoxious law student-defendant might take that same lesson to heart).

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 17, 2007 at 05:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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