I have a hunch that studying and trying to implement the principles described in Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P. M. Forni will lead to better emotional and physical health as well as improve my professional life as a lawyer. Of course this is a wildly speculative and subjective experiment with perhaps no relevance to anyone else. Nonetheless, I plan on conducting this “experiment” and reporting the results here from time to time.
The first stage is to read the book. As I do, I will be wondering which, if any, of the twenty-five rules of considerate conduct seem to have direct application to my life as a lawyer and which, if any, of those rules seem inconsistent with lawyering as I understand it.
Incidentally, the author, P.M. Forni, has a new book out entitled The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude (Hardcover). I was immediately drawn to Forni’s new book when I heard Diane Rehm interview him. In my experience the vast majority of lawyers I have worked with have been trustworthy, considerate and reliable. But there are some who are invariably rude, aggressive and horrible to deal with. Their negative impact emotionally, professionally and economically is far out of proportion to their number. (They should be required to deal only with each other. Judges should do more to make sure that the cost of such behavior is borne by the offending lawyer not by the opposing party.) And so it is understandable that professionally responsible lawyers, lawyers who are “civil” are forever looking for ways to deal with rather than retaliate against these miserable people.
Having been tempted to learn how to deal with rude people, I realized that I ought to start with taking a good look at my own conduct first. I’m not at all sure this is going to be an entirely pleasant experience.