PUBLISHED BY: Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
January 31, 2024
FEATURE ARTICLE: Practicing Civility in an Uncivil World: Part I
In the past several years, we have seen a number of major cultural shifts in the United States. In the past decade, what has become acceptable public behavior has changed massively. We now live in a world in which cultural, religious, and political differences have led to confrontations both in private and public that have lowered the standards of civility. Daily, we see public figures, including lawyers, educators, and government officeholders, use foul language, physical threats, and, on occasion violence. We have watched members of Congress physically and verbally attack each other in a manner not seen in those hallowed halls since the Civil War. And, of course, politics has become a constant battle in the cultural wars that have marked the past twenty years. What this leads me to wonder is whether the legal profession can resist this degeneration in manners and behavior and maintain some level of professionalism.
I think that it is entirely possible that in the coming months, as the Presidential election heats up, the growing incivility in everyday life will increase. There can be no doubt that many lawyers will get publicly involved in the election and that some may well exceed traditional boundaries of professional behavior. Personally, I find that unfortunate and I believe that it is also a problem for the profession if the public loses faith in lawyers’ professionalism. Thus, I ask the question: what can the legal profession do to moderate lawyer incivility in an uncivil time?
NEW RESOURCE: National Archives Add U.S. Supreme Court Hearing Recordings
Although the LEMR is primarily focused on issues in legal ethics and malpractice, occasionally I come across something so interesting that I feel it is worthwhile to share it with readers. Thus, this column.
The National Archives are the repository of American history, including law. They hold the founding documents of our nation as and perform other vital functions such as handling classified documents, as has been critical to the ongoing case against former President Trump. The main archives facility is in Washington, D.C., with regional centers around the country including Kansas City.
As the official repository of many American documents, the National Archives works diligently to make their holdings accessible to the public. They have a website and continue to digitize documents and put them online. Recently, the Archives announced the addition of the actual recordings of U.S. Supreme Court hearings to its website. While the textual documents have been available for some time, the actual voices of the Justices and the lawyers have not been easily available.
ETHICS & MALPRACTICE RESEARCH TIP: New Articles from The Current Index to Legal Periodicals
- Brian R. Iverson, “Give Me a Break: Regulating Communications between Attorneys and Their Witness- Clients during Deposition Recesses,” 36 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 497 (2023).This article considers a fascinating and extremely important question on deposition practice.
- John G. Browning, “Advocacy in the 21st Century: The Duty of Technological Competence and Today’s Trial Lawyer. Advancing Advocacy,” 47 Nova L. Rev. 305 (2023).
- John G. Browning, It’s 3 A.M.: “Do You Know What Your Staff Just Posted? Social Media Ethics Pitfalls for Appellate Lawyers and Judges,” 22 J. App. Prac. & Process 49 (2022).Justice John G. Browning, a retired Texas Supreme Court Justice, practicing lawyer, and professor, is one of the most interesting commentators writing on legal ethics today. Both of these articles on aspects of the ethics of technology are worth reading.
- Keith Swisher, “The Right to (Human) Counsel: Real Responsibility for Artificial Intelligence,” 74 S. C. L. Rev. 823 (2023).And the ethical issues surrounding AI in law practice just keep coming…
A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Aspire to Decency
Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail—as you surely will—adjust your lives, not the standards.
—Ted Koppel, commencement address at Stanford University on June 14, 1998
About Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
Joseph, Hollander & Craft is a mid-size law firm representing criminal defense, civil defense, personal injury, and family law clients throughout Kansas and Missouri. From our offices in Kansas City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita, our team of 25 attorneys covers a lot of ground, both geographically and professionally.
We defend against life-changing criminal prosecutions. We protect children and property in divorce cases. We pursue relief for clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries or the death of a loved one due to the negligence of others. We fight allegations of professional misconduct against medical and legal practitioners, accountants, real estate agents, and others.
When your business, freedom, property, or career is at stake, you want the attorney standing beside you to be skilled, prepared, and relentless — Ready for Anything, come what may. At JHC, we pride ourselves on offering outstanding legal counsel and representation with the personal attention and professionalism our clients deserve. Learn more about our attorneys and their areas of practice, and locate a JHC office near you.