Law school tackles civility in groundbreaking program

(January 25, 2011) Seattle University School of Law Professor Paula Lustbader, a long standing advocate for diversity in the legal profession, has launched a pioneering program to promote civility in the legal profession.

Paula LustbaderThe Civility Promise: Fostering Care and Respect in the Legal Profession is a three-pronged initiative that includes intensive seminars at the law school, a monthly column for lawyers and an international program scheduled for fall in Tuscany.

Lustbader has been working on the program for months in memory of her uncle, Robert Lustbader. To honor his brother, her father, Alfred Lustbader established Robert's Fund, a small Seattle-based foundation devoted to fostering more civility in our lives. It has taken on even more meaning as the call for civility in society has been amplified.

"Civility is good for our health, our profession, and our clients," Lustbader said. "When we as lawyers are civil, we can help de-escalate conflict and reduce rudeness. Civility is more than politeness and affability. Civility is courage with kindness. Civility can increase client loyalty and client base. Civility leads to more successful outcomes.  Civility is a code of behavior that we can restore in our everyday lives and in the practice of our profession - all in the service of justice."

The program is cosponsored by the law school and Robert's Fund. The first in the series of seminars is Igniting a Culture of Civility: Fostering Respect and Care in the Legal Profession on Friday, Feb. 4. Register and find more information.

Subsequent sessions are Civility Matters: Benefits to the Parties, the Practitioner, and the Profession on Friday, March 4 and Civility Speaks: The Skilled Behaviors That Embody Care and Respect on Friday, April 1. 

In addition to putting together programs for lawyers and law students, Lustbader started a monthly column in the Washington State Bar Association's Bar News called "Raising the Bar: The Promise of Civility in Our Profession." She wrote the inaugural column and will coordinate submission from other lawyers.

Lustbader is also organizing an exciting program, The Promise of Civility CLE Workshop in Tuscany, Italy, set for October 12-20. She will be joined by attorneys Stella Rabaut and Ron Ward for an eight-day program including interactive CLE programming and educational excursions. The workshop will be held at the Sovana Hotel in Maremma Toscana. For more information, contact or 206-398-4233.

Student studying in the Law Library