Ilana Rovner: Civility in the Legal Profession

Judge Ilana Rovner discusses the importance of civility in our legal culture and how her passion for civility led her to pursue a career in the law, leading to her current position as judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. I know I was overcome by the Judge Rovner’s powerful personal story. I would love to hear your reaction to this interview.

“Lawyers are the only thing that can keep terrible things from happening in a civilized society.” Civility is a concept that lawyers often hear and feel they do their part to uphold by showing deference in a courtroom or attending a CLE course. However, civility in our world is much larger than that. As I have written before, the concept of civility includes the notion of a code of conduct necessary for peaceful and healthy living together in society, of being a ‘good citizen.’ We are all familiar with the atrocities that occurred in Nazi Germany and throughout Europe during World War II. But how often do we look at tragic periods such as this and consider the role that attorneys and legal advocates may play in defeating these worldwide tyrannies? What if all we needed was a few individuals courageous enough to insist that constitutions aren’t just open words, and to stand up to bullies in an otherwise civilized society?

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