This article were originally published as the Editor's page in The Beverly Hills Bar Journal, during Mr. Shacter's tenure.


A new idea is sweeping across the land at least in bar association circles. American Bar Association president Robert Raven has re-emphasized upon professionalism, courtesy among counsel themselves and between the court and counsel.

In California, a State Bar committee has been established called the State Committee on Professionalism and Public Awareness (SCOPAPA). Local committees are being established for the same purpose (LOPAPA). With increasing caseloads in every court, trial and appellate, we are finding that the former courtesies and consideration are the victims of increased stress and impersonal treatment of opposing counsel who more often than not may be unknown to us.

Across the country, local and state bar associations are adopting courtesy codes and opposing uncivil, discourteous, combative, rude and harassing behavior by lawyers during litigation. In one of the latest publications, the text reads: "Rambo has no place in the legal profession. And if many bar officials have their way, Rambo like actions in litigation would be blown away faster than the movie character can aim his weapon." These guidelines discourage unnecessary motions, urge early settlement through voluntary exchange of information, use of telephone conferences, setting depositions by mutual agreement and reasonable time constraints.

On the national level, American Bar Association president Robert Raven has appointed a seven-member task force was appointed to develop recommendations for a national program to improve public understanding of the justice system and the role lawyers play in society. Raven announced:

"As a nation, we sometimes take for granted the laws and systems for achieving justice that are essential elements of our shared national values. We need to remind ourselves of their vital role if we are to maintain and improve our society's great strengths."

The task force will focus on how state and local bar associations and other national legal organizations can better communicate with lawyers, community leaders and the public, and on steps that the American Bar Association can take to support such efforts. On the subject of developing and implementing such a nationwide public education campaign, Raven said

"We will examine current perceptions of the legal system, and will try to determine how best to provide a fuller understanding of how that system contributes to justice, equality and the quality of our lives."

Truly the task is at hand, the time is now, and we each have the power to make a difference.