The California Supreme Court just announced that it has adopted a “Civility” Oath Rule that new attorneys will be required to take upon admission to the California Bar. It will be added to Title 9 of the California Rules of Court as Rule 9.4. Title 9 provides the rules on law practice, attorneys and judges.
Why is this necessary? Practicing law is a difficult business. Especially civil or criminal litigation. The stakes are usually high for the clients, and often the lawyers, too. Litigation is stressful even under the best of circumstances.
It’s worse when opposing counsel is a “Rambo” lawyer. Rambo lawyers think they know everything and they are pushy and rude and untrustworthy. They play games. Here are some games Rambo lawyers play:
- “I never got those requests for admissions!”
- “Those depositions you set 8 weeks ago are going off because my client had something come up.”
- “I’m gonna kick your ass! I’ve never lost a motion for summary judgment – ever!”
- Filing motions at 4:59 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
- Frivolously objecting all through depositions.
- Telling clients not to answer proper questions in depositions.
- Coaching the witness in depositions. Stuff like, “If you remember.”
- Treating deponents rudely.
- Insulting opposing counsel.
- Lying about agreements made with opposing counsel.
The attorney’s oath will now include:
I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability. As an officer of the court, I will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.
I’m not sure this will make much difference, but it sounds good. Rambo lawyers never let something like a little oath get in their way.
Over the years I have dealt with my share of Rambo lawyers. It’s no fun. On the bright side, Rambo tactics usually don’t benefit the client, and in fact often hurt the client, and the last few years it seems to me that most attorneys are much more civil. I actually like, and in some cases admire, most of my opposing counsel.
One can vigorously represent a client without being a jerk. It makes things better for everyone and usually benefits your client.