Florida Supreme Court Adds Civility Pledge to Bar Admission Oath

TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing the efforts of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), the Florida Supreme Court has revised the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar to include a pledge of "fairness, integrity, and civility" to opponents, not only in court, but also "in all written and oral communications."

Commenting that "concerns have grown about acts of incivility among members of the legal profession," the high court noted ABOTA's efforts to stress the importance of civility in the practice of law.  The Supreme Court emphasized to Florida lawyers old and new that practicing law is an honor that comes with responsibilities, paramount among which is civility, an often overlooked cornerstone of the legal profession.  The Court added to the Oath of Admission the following:

To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.

Violation of the Oath of Admission can be grounds for discipline.  The change in the Oath comes as a result of sustained study by the Supreme Court, The Florida Bar, and various committees on litigation civility and professionalism.

ABOTA, an organization composed of both plaintiff and defense trial lawyers, has long advocated for professionalism and civility in litigation and trial.  Many of the eleven Florida local chapters hold annual seminars on litigation and trial ethics, professionalism, and civility, and work closely with the judiciary to encourage appropriate behavior.  ABOTA chapters in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Central Florida and others have joined the effort.

At a recent civility seminar in Tampa co-sponsored by Tampa Bay ABOTA, the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and Stetson University College of Law, National ABOTA Vice President Mick Callahan of St. Petersburg urged Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, the keynote speaker, to consider amending the Oath to include a civility pledge.  Such an amendment was already under study.

ABOTA, with a national membership of over 6,400 plaintiff and defense lawyers, has deep  Florida roots in both membership and leadership.  FLABOTA represents the eleven Florida Chapters of ABOTA, which boast over 650 members.  Incoming ABOTA President Mick Callahan will be the second Florida president in the past few years, following John Holcomb of Tampa, who served in that capacity in 2009.

ABOTA is focused on the preservation and defense of the judicial system and the right to trial by jury, and has undertaken efforts within the Bar and law schools as well as elementary and secondary school systems to educate the public regarding our judicial system and our right of jury trial.

Contact: C. Howard Hunter, President-Elect, FLABOTA, 813-221-3900, hhunter@hwhlaw.com

SOURCE American Board of Trial Advocates



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