As lawyers I've had my fair share of tussels with attorneys who are both male and female as well as members of the judiciary to the highest level. As lawyers we are expected to act with a level of civility toward our colleagues that reflects the dignity and respect our profession is meant to engender between each other and to the public.
Yet where do we draw the line when civility is taxed to a level of intolerance. As a lawyer it's my job to protect my client's rights but as a lawyer I've come to the conclusion that sometimes the bounds of civility must give way to a greater good . . . the desire for truth and the prevention of denigration of the human person be they the client or the lawyer.
In the past year I have reached my limit and come to several conclusions that are worth expressing for the benefit of clients, lawyers and the judiciary.
THREE NEW PERSONAL BOUNDARIES
1. If it means that the line of civility must be crossed to protect the dignity, rights or privacy of a client, then over the line I'll go.
2. If another lawyer breaches the line of civility with or without just cause, I will reserve myself to the extent possible and rise above the lack of civility by a member of my own profession. Yet in cases where a lawyer, judge or magistrate crosses the line and resorts to public acts of incivility, denigration or humiliation without cause then I will call that person's incivility to his or her attention publicly and "on the record" when called for in order to call the person's lack of civility to their attention.
3. When a lack of civility evidences a bias against a client or against me as a member of the bar then once again the civility will not be tolerated and will be called publicly to the attention of the lawyer, judge or magistrate who crosses the line.
Ultimately, civility has its place and it has its limits and while the Rhode Island Code of Conduct is intended to guide us as lawyers, it is not a license to belittle others be they lawyers, clients or judges.
All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™
I'm an Affordable Providence County Family Law Lawyer and I am here to help you if you need me.
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