Civility Toolkit

Lawyer Civility What History and Ethics Can Teach Us About Lawyer Civility

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism works to reduce incivility in the legal profession. Rule 799(a) instructs us to “promote among the lawyers and judges of Illinois principles of integrity, professionalism and civility.” To further this effort, we created an educational resource toolkit focused on lawyer civility. This toolkit contains all of the materials necessary to facilitate a 60-minute program which would qualify for 1 hour of professional responsibility Illinois CLE credit.

Program Overview

This program discusses (1) the general public’s perception of attorneys, (2) an examination of civility and professionalism within the Illinois bar, (3) the history of civility and its relationship to Western civilization, (4) the crucial role respect plays in any discussion of civility, and (5) hypothetical scenarios with civility dilemmas.

Learning Objectives

As a result of the program, participants will learn to:

  1. Apply classical principles of civility to modern behavior.
  2. Defuse highly charged language and behavior before it escalates out of control.
  3. Discover effective and ethical tools for managing incivility.

Course Components

A sample timed agenda, PowerPoint presentation, and hypothetical scenarios provide the course content and methods.

Agenda: Provides a suggested timing for delivering the PowerPoint and discussing the hypothetical scenarios.

PowerPoint: Includes a complete presentation including speaker’s notes, talking points, and facilitation suggestions.

Hypothetical Scenarios: Includes the scenarios presented in the PowerPoint presentation as a handout for participants, as well as additional scenarios that can be substituted relevant for both attorneys and judges.

Supporting Materials

These materials may be downloaded and distributed to participants prior to the course.

Rules of Professional Conduct Related to Civility: This is a list of Rules that discuss matters related to attorney civility.

Civility as the Core of Professionalism: A chapter from the Essential Qualities of the Professional Lawyer that explores what is civility, why it’s important for lawyers, and how it benefits the profession as a whole.

Study of Illinois Lawyers 2014: Referenced in the presentation, this study looks at Illinois lawyers’ perceptions and experience with civility and professionalism in their work environments.


These resources can extend learning and deepen skills.

People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others and Resolve Conflicts
Civility: Manners, Morals and The Etiquette of Democracy 
The Civility Solution
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
The Power of A Positive No
Achieving Civility Means Managing Relationships
American Board of Trial Advocates “Civility Matters” Program
Civility in the Practice of Law: How the Legal Profession Can Do Better
Dealing with Difficult People
Program on Negotiation Harvard Law School

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