Principles of Civility, Integrity and Professionalism

Last week I was at the University of Montana Law School teaching at their Advanced Trial Advocacy course and met Don Robinson. Don is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocacy, and during the course he lectured on civility and showed a video produced by ABOTA, which is intended to encourage civility in the practice of law.


ABOTA has promulgated Principles on Civility, Integrity and Professionalism which are to be followed by its members. The principles for courtroom behavior are set out below. The remainder of the principles can be found on line at the ABOTA website. Wouldn’t life be better if all lawyers adhered to them?

American Board of Trial Advocates Principles of Civility, Integrity and Professionalism:

When In Court I Will:

1. Always uphold the dignity of the court and never be disrespectful.
2. Never publicly criticize a judge for his or her rulings or a jury for its verdict. Criticism should be reserved for appellate court briefs.
3. Be punctual and prepared for all court appearances, and, if unavoidably delayed, notify the court and counsel as soon as possible.
4. Never engage in conduct that brings disorder or disruption to the courtroom.
5. Advise clients and witnesses of the proper courtroom conduct expected and required.
6. Never misrepresent or misquote facts or authorities.
7. Verify the availability of clients and witnesses, if possible, before dates for hearings or trials are scheduled, or immediately thereafter, and promptly notify the court and counsel if their attendance cannot be assured.
8. Be respectful and courteous to court marshals or bailiffs, clerks, reporters, secretaries, and law clerks.