Hello everyone and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert which discusses the recent short Supreme Court of Florida Opinion which sets forth the Court’s concerns about “incivility” among lawyers and adds language to the Oath of Admission addressing these concerns. The unanimous Opinion was rendered on September 12, 2011 and became effective immediately. The Opinion cites In re: Snyder, 472 U.S. 634,647 (1985), wherein the U.S. Supreme Court referred to the “necessity for civility in the inherently contentious setting of the adversary process” and states that the new language in the Oath emphasizes “the importance of respectful and civil conduct in the practice of law”. The Opinion also states that “concerns have grown in recent years about incivility among attorneys” and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), among others, has taken steps to raise the level of awareness about the importance of civility in the practice of law.
The Opinion also notes that ABOTA’s Code of Professionalism includes a pledge to be “respectful in my conduct toward my adversaries.” In addition, South Carolina added a civility pledge to its oath of admission in 2003 and other states, including Utah and New Mexico, have done the same. The exact language added to Florida’s oath is as follows: “To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.”
The current Oath of Admission prohibits “offensive personality” by lawyers and The Florida Bar has prosecuted lawyers for violations of the Oath of Admission in the past. The Opinion also was not the result of a request by The Florida Bar to change the language in the Oath.
Bottom line: As I have said and written about many times before, the Supreme Court of Florida has taken and continues to take a very clear position that civility and professionalism must be enforced in the practice of law and this Opinion continues that trend.
…be careful out there!
As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.
PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS
DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES
(AND MUCH MORE!)
My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms. If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.
If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find my law firm on the web at http://www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida. I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.
You are receiving this ETHICS ALERT since you are a current or former client or you have requested that this Update be sent to you. Please note that you may opt in or out of receiving this ETHICS ALERT any time. If you would like to discontinue receipt of this ETHICS ALERT or if you would like to begin receiving it, simply send me an e-mail to me advising of your request.
If there are others at your firm who would like to be included on the distribution list, please feel free to forward this update to them or let us know in an email. If you would like to forward this Ethics Alert to any person or entity please feel free do so as long as it is not for personal gain and you forward the entire email, including all contact information and disclaimers.
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670
NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY: This electronic communication and the information contained herein is legally privileged and confidential proprietary information intended only for the individual and/or entity to whom it is addressed pursuant to the American Bar Association Formal Opinion No. 99-413, dated March 10, 1999 and all other applicable laws and rules. If you receive this transmission in error, you are advised that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance upon the communication is strictly prohibited. Any unauthorized use, distribution, or disclosure of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail at the above telephone number and then delete message entirely from your system. Thank you for your cooperation.