Civility Initiatives: The 2008 Allerton House Conference
Jeffrey A. Parness
Northern Illinois University - College of Law
December 10, 2008
Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 96, p. 636, 2008
The 2008 Allerton Conference of the Illinois State Bar Association was devoted to possible new civility/professionalism initiatives for civil litigation. In this paper the conference reporter summarizes the discussions and recommendations. Conference panelists addressed such topics as whether recent changes in legal practice have prompted greater incivility; who should promulgate any new initiatives; how to handle lawyers who act unprofessionally beyond disciplinary, sanction and malpractice proceedings; free speech rights and other constraints on new civility initiatives; and, expanded civility training for law students and new lawyers. At the close of the panels attendees were questioned about possible new civility initiatives.
Most attendees opined that no single entity (i.e., Supreme Court, Commission on Professionalism, local courts, state or local bar associations) should maintain exclusive, or even primary, responsibility. They supported additional statewide training for law students as well as new and experienced lawyers. There was strong support for expanding both law student certification standards and the mandated skills courses for all new lawyers in order to promote professional conduct. Finally, there was strong support for continuing with civility pledge opportunities as well as for establishing new intermediary programs for lawyers and judges who acted unprofessionally.
Keywords: Professionalism, Civil Litigation, Civility, Litigation Misconduct
Date posted: December 10, 2008