Voluntary Standards for Civility

D.C. Bar Voluntary Standards of Civility: General Principles

Principles of General Applicability: Lawyers' Duties to Other Counsel, Parties and the Judiciary

General Principles

  1. In carrying out our professional responsibilities, we will treat all participants in the legal process, including counsel and their staff, parties, witnesses, judges, and court personnel, in a civil, professional, and courteous manner, at all times and in all communications, whether oral or written. We will refrain from acting upon or manifesting racial, gender, or other bias or prejudice toward any participant in the legal process. We will treat all participants in the legal process with respect.
  2. Except within the bounds of fair argument in pleadings or in formal proceedings, we will not reflect in our conduct, attitude, or demeanor our clients' ill feelings, if any, toward other participants in the legal process.
  3. We will not, even if called upon by a client to do so, engage in offensive conduct directed toward other participants in the legal process nor will we abuse other such participants in the legal process. Except within the bounds of fair argument in pleadings or in formal proceedings, we will abstain from disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward such participants and treat adverse witnesses and parties with fair consideration. We will encourage our clients to act civilly and respectfully to all participants in the legal process.
  4. We will not encourage or authorize any person under our control to engage in conduct that would be inappropriate under these standards if we were to engage in such conduct.
  5. We will not bring the profession into disrepute by making unfounded accusations of impropriety or making ad hominem attacks on counsel, and, absent good cause, we will not attribute bad motives or improper conduct to other counsel.
  6. While we owe our highest loyalty to our clients, we will discharge that obligation in the framework of the judicial system in which we apply our learning, skill, and industry in accordance with professional norms. In this context, we will strive for orderly, efficient, ethical, fair, and just disposition of litigation as well as disputed matters that are not, or not yet, the subject of litigation, and for the efficient, ethical and fair negotiation and consummation of business transactions.
  7. The foregoing General Principles apply to all aspects of legal proceedings, both in the presence and outside the presence of a court or tribunal.