Lawyers: Leading with Integrity

Stella Rabaut, Lawyers: Leading with Integrity Bar News, Washington State Bar Association, October 2013

Lawyers have significant opportunities to take a leadership role in specific ways:

  • In the “way we are present and hold ourselves and define our profession”;
  • In the “way we form a relationship with each client”; and
  • In the “way we approach other parties in the conflict.”

We can encourage, nurture, and develop lawyer leadership, beginning with inner personal work that helps the legal profession evolve into a more conscious, creative and collaborative practice:

  • Consciousness — undertaking mindfulness exercises helps lawyers feel and perform better, derive and deliver more satisfaction, and relieve suffering in themselves and others.
  • Creativity — viewing law as a healing profession turns adversaries into healers, provocateurs into peacemakers, entrepreneurs into service providers.
  • Collaboration — shifting from an adversarial and competitive stance to one of collaboration and problem-solving for their clients can achieve more satisfying results.

To lead effectively in uncertain and turbulent times, lawyers must integrate the rational and logical skills of the head with the reflective, imaginative, and relational skills of the heart. Practical behaviors to engender this integration include

  • Establishing time for reflection;
  • Pursuing clarity about underlying values;
  • Constantly reassessing one’s actions and deeper purpose;
  • Taking greater risks and making greater sacrifices;
  • Collaborating and connecting more; and
  • Being less isolated.

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Ethics & The Law: The Ethics of Incivility

Barrie Althoff, Ethics & The Law: The Ethics of Incivility, Wash. Bar News (July 1999).


Former WSBA Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Mr. Barrie Althoff states that “civility and professionalism relate to the basic level of trust and respect accorded by one person to another, of the level of confidence a lawyer or a judge can have in the word of another lawyer or a judge. Civility and professionalism form a framework for common expectations of mutual trust, of being treated with dignity, and ultimately set the stage for justice to be done.” After reviewing concerns over incivility in the profession and its causes, including some clients’ expectations of uncivil behavior, he discusses Rules of Professional Conduct that relate to civility. Mr. Althoff also provides several examples of lawyers’ behavior that resulted in disciplinary action or court sanctions. He concludes with a series of provocative questions including who should set standards of behavior, who should police and regulate said behavior, and whether such codes of conduct are effective ways to ensure justice is done. The legal profession “is a noble profession … because the profession's overriding goal is to make the promise of justice a reality…. If lawyers truly are guardians of law, then they more than others need to embody in their practices and lives … respect for the dignity of the individual. Lawyers need to treat one another with dignity and respect because the very purpose of law, and thus the very reason for the legal profession's existence, is to attain respect and protection for the dignity of the individual. Modeling civility and professionalism is an important way for each lawyer and judge to express gratitude to other legal professionals, to honor the innate dignity of one another, and to celebrate the cacophony of justice that is attained through the legal process.”

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Manners, Mindfulness, and a Modicum of Respect: Teaching Professionalism and Civility

Paula Lustbader and Janet Dickson
Seattle University School of Law


The purpose of this article is to encourage professional schools to incorporate professional formation and specifically civility curriculum in their respective schools. The paper will provide a basic definition of professional formation and civility; explain the cost of incivility; suggest factors that provoke incivility; propose the foundational skills that foster civility; review current program models for incorporating professional formation and civility curriculum within the law school context; explain a pedagogy for teaching civility; and explore assessment tools.

KEYWORDS: civility, incivility, professional formation, curriculum development, law school, professional schools, pedagogy, assessment tools, and professional skills development

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Civility and the Law

Written by Stacy Heard, Esq.

Published in the January 2012 edition of the Washington Chapter Association of Family & Conciliation Courts.

In October 2011, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend and participate in an eight-day CLE in Sovana, Italy, with approximately 40 other attendees. The program is called “The Civility Promise in Italy: Experience Consciousness, Creativity, and Community,” conducted by the Seattle University School of Law and Robert’s Fund, founded by the president of Robert’s Fund and Seattle University Law School Professor, Paula Lustbader. The seminar is particularly unique because the participants stay in a small Tuscan town, one block long.

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Civility - Life Lessons in Tuscany

Written by Karen Murray, Italy CLE Participant October 2011

After having several months to reflect upon both my seminar take-aways and the ten relaxing days I stayed in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, I fully realize that the civility promise could not have happened in Seattle or any other place that I or the other participants reside.  It was crucial for all of us to travel across an ocean in order to immerse ourselves in the conversation of civility without any distractions in order to begin our exploration into the civility promise of consciousness.

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The Promise of Civility

Written by Professor Paula Lustbader, Robert's Fund President

Published in the Summer 2011 edition of Seattle University School of Law's The Lawyer Magazine.

Recently my son, daughter, and "adopted" daughter bemoaned the current state of affairs of global and domestic political, environmental, educational, economical, medical, technological, and societal arenas. They felt overwhelmed by the immensity and complexity of these ubiquitous problems, none of which had simple solutions. Where could they even begin to make a difference? Worse, citing materialism, reality television, texting, multitasking, lack of critical thinking and reflection, they all expressed serious doubt whether their generation was even "up to the task" of trying to take on any issues. 

As I listened, I reflected on my own generation and the immensity of the problems we faced. I remembered the "duck and cover" drills to prepare us for nuclear annihilation.  I recalled the peace marches in the early 1970s: one ended in San Francisco Golden Gate Park, with Jefferson Airplane playing a free concert in the background. I watched two minority groups come to physical blows over which group was more oppressed. The irony wasn't lost on me.

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Reflection on "The Civility Promise" in Italy

Written by Karen Taylor

You’re doing what? When I told people I was traveling to Italy to take a CLE on “Civility in the Law,” the response was a smile and a knowing look that I was off on a junket. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. The way we practice law affects outcome, and this CLE proved to be an incredible opportunity for learning and reflection—a place ideal for focus and relaxation—and a chance to reconnect and consider not only the value of civility in the legal profession, but also in other professions and in every part of our lives.  Although most continuing legal education classes are held in a law school classroom or a meeting room of a hotel or convention center, choosing to hold “The Promise of Civility in the Legal Profession” in the small medieval town of Sovana, Italy provided a respite from grinding work and a fast-paced world.  Steeped in history, culture, and art, Sovana gave us a greater opportunity to quiet the noise in our lives and consider how to make the legal profession and our world more civil.

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