As we celebrate Pro Bono Month, this week’s #ChooseCivility blog post explores the intersection of civility and access to justice. While the goal of pro bono work is to provide legal assistance to those in need, it’s essential not to underestimate the power of civility within this context. Lawyers who uphold civility standards in their pro bono efforts not only enhance the effectiveness of their cases but also highlight the profound positive influence the legal profession can have on a community.
- Building Trust and Comfort: The complexity of the legal system can be overwhelming, and the fear of judgment or mistreatment can deter many from seeking help. When you’re facing a legal crisis, having a lawyer who treats you with respect and empathy can make all the difference. Civility in lawyer-client interactions is not just a nicety; it’s the foundation of trust. Clients who feel heard and respected are more likely to share the complete details of their cases, enabling lawyers to better understand their needs and devise effective strategies.
- Preventing Unnecessary Delays: In many legal matters, time is often of the essence. In cases dealing with eviction, family disputes, or immigration, clients can’t afford unnecessary delays. Civility in lawyer-to-lawyer and lawyer-to-judge communication leads to quicker resolutions. A more efficient legal process means that justice can be served promptly, sparing individuals prolonged uncertainty and hardship.
- Expanding Pro Bono and Legal Aid Services: Civility fosters a spirit of cooperation among legal professionals. More lawyers are more likely to volunteer for pro bono work or legal services if the environment is a positive one. This broadens the availability of legal resources for those who can’t afford traditional representation.
- Promoting Outreach and Education: Pro bono legal work provides a unique platform for lawyers to set an example for future generations of legal professionals. When young lawyers witness their mentors and colleagues practicing civility in pro bono work, they are more likely to embrace these values in their own careers, perpetuating a culture of civility within the legal profession. Civility isn’t confined to courtrooms. Lawyers who engage with their communities in a respectful, empathetic manner help inform individuals about their rights and available legal resources. This outreach empowers people to seek help when they need it most.
In conclusion, civility in the law isn’t just a set of professionalism rules; it has the potential to be a game-changer. It makes the law more approachable, justice more attainable, and society more equitable.
The Alabama State Bar is actively researching how artificial intelligence is shaping the legal industry. As part of this work, we are testing the output of various AI-powered tech like ChatGPT. Our goal is to educate members to make informed decisions on how to use AI tools while maintaining ethical standards and responsible technology use.
This blogpost was created with help from ChatGPT.