The Massachusetts Bar Association recently endorsed a set of “Civility Guidelines for Family Law Attorneys”. It is amazing to us that in 2017 this project should have been necessary, but we have no doubt of it; and the ten points are both simple and profound.
Moreover, these tenets don’t just apply to the courtroom. They are equally applicable to the arbitration or mediation room, the four-way meeting, attorney correspondence, and the ongoing processing of every case, including negotiation. In truncated form the ten commandments of civility are:
- Dress appropriately.
- Be on time and prepared.
- Treat people with courtesy and respect.
- Wait your turn – don’t interrupt or shout.
- Be honest – in verbal and written word.
- Follow the rules (about notice and service)
- Respond timely.
- Focus on the facts in issue.
- Negotiate in good faith after full disclosure.
- Do not use court in a revengeful manner.
Sometimes the truest things shouldn’t have to be said – be bear reminder nonetheless.