Civility: Power Beyond Politeness


Excerpts from the Article

By Stella Rabaut

...In our law practice we may find ourselves being misquoted, misrepresented, or demeaned by colleagues. The challenge of responding with civility is a tough one. Ours is a profession that does little to emphasize or encourage patience or humility. Some argue that acting with civility is weak, bordering on “unethical,” not zealously pursuing the client’s interests.

I am increasingly curious about civility. At the heart of the art of practicing law is the skill of using language and presence with care and civility. By contrast, conversations with colleagues frequently end up with tales of egregious acts of incivility. Thus, I have read articles and books, tuning my antennae for positive stories from our work settings. Core themes are arising, and I have come to believe these three simple statements...

About the Author

Stella Rabaut practiced law for over 20 years as an oil and gas attorney, general counsel to a nonprofit organization, and solo practitioner. Her interest became sustaining the human spirit while practicing law, designing retreats for lawyers and judges. She has chaired the WSBA Professionalism Committee and is a life fellow of the State Bar of Texas. Stella consulted with the Fetzer Institute on their Law as a Healing  Profession Program. As adjunct faculty at Seattle University School of Law, she designed and taught a course entitled “Transforming the Legal Profession: Emerging Trends in the Practice of Law.”