The hallmark of a civilized society is its ability to maintain a legal system that is fair, effective and efficient. As lawyers, we have a predominant role in assuring that the legal system fulfills these goals. Toward that end, starting in 2009, the CBA-DBA Professionalism Coordinating Council undertook a project to meld existing principles of professionalism into a single unified document to create a guide for statewide use. This product of that consolidation of principles is not intended to supersede local Bar association rules of professionalism.
The wisdom and practicality of these combined Principles of Professionalism lie in two key features. First, highly experienced attorneys from many different practice areas and numerous judicial officers who are members of the Professionalism Coordinating Council reviewed, discussed, and developed the combined practice principles as “real-world” attainable goals for professional behavior to which the profession should aspire to apply every day in practice. Second, the principles have no coercive enforcement mechanism except those that have existed in our profession since the days of the quill pen and powdered wig: the fundamental commitment of attorneys to conduct themselves and their practices professionally and with integrity. Adherence to these principles brings its own rewards through the admiration of one’s colleagues, and falling short of these high standards brings the opprobrium and condemnation of those same colleagues. The mark of a professional calling is that it aspires first and foremost to police itself.
For the achievement of integrity throughout the legal profession, each lawyer should aspire to adopt the following Principles of Professionalism and to perform in accordance with the Practical Considerations outlined in the document below, approved in May 2012 by the Board of Governors.