New Attorney Civility Measures Introduced by the California State Bar
On July 20, 2023, during its meeting, the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California granted approval to a series of proposed measures aimed at enhancing the civility of attorneys authorized to practice law in California.
These proposed changes are now set to undergo review and approval by the California Supreme Court. The recommendations for these changes were put forth by the California Civility Task Force, a diverse group comprising over 40 lawyers and judges, and was sponsored by both the California Lawyers Association and the California Judges Association.
The key updates include:
- Amendments to California Rule of Court 9.7, which will require attorneys to annually affirm or reaffirm their commitment to a civility oath.
- Introduction of a new State Bar Rule 2.3, which will serve as the means to implement the proposed changes to the oath.
- Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct, stating that incivility can be a valid cause for disciplinary action against attorneys.
The task force’s final report emphasized the significance of civility, stating that it is not only important because lawyers serve as examples of how to engage with opposing ideas and interests, but also because our system of justice relies on a foundation of fairness and reliability.
Since 2014, all individuals admitted to practice law in California have taken an oath that includes the pledge to conduct themselves with dignity, courtesy, and integrity as officers of the court. However, many practicing attorneys took the earlier version of the oath before 2014, which did not contain this language.
Read more from the State Bar of California here.
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