Professionalism Clearinghouse

Professionalism Clearinghouse

The Michigan Supreme Court adopted the Principles of Professionalism and Civility in December 2020. The Principles were drafted by the State Bar of Michigan’s Professionalism Work Group and approved by the Representative Assembly at its September 2019 meeting. 

New Matthew Vafidis examines for Law 360 whether we can carry over into our post-shutdown professional lives the new levels of civility that we have been experiencing over the past few months. See Civility Could Be Litigators’ New Normal Even Post-Pandemic

On October 18, 2018, over 80 respected judges and attorneys gathered at the Michigan Supreme Court Hall of Justice for a daylong Promoting Professionalism in the 21st Century Summit addressing the need to reinforce cultures of professionalism necessary to sustain a fair and impartial justice system. The Summit was the first, in the hopes of many, on civility and professionalism in the practice of law. It included speakers, workshops, panels, and breakout sessions. Recommendations from the Summit are included in the link to the program below. One of those recommendations was to establish a Professionalism Clearinghouse & Tool Kit on the State Bar of Michigan website. This publication is the first effort at a Clearinghouse; it will be reviewed and updated by the Professionalism Work Group established by 2018–2019 President Jennifer Grieco. The commitment to continue this work is apparent from President Dennis M. Barnes’s first Michigan Bar Journal President’s Page

Professionalism Programs

SBM Promoting Professionalism in the 21st Century Summit On October 18, 2018, over 80 respected judges and attorneys gathered at the Michigan Supreme Court Hall of Justice for a daylong Promoting Professionalism in the 21st Century Summit addressing the need to reinforce cultures of professionalism necessary to sustain a fair and impartial justice system. The Summit was the first, in the hopes of many, on civility and professionalism in the practice of law. It included speakers, workshops, panels, and breakout sessions. See page 9 for a list of suggested resources to add to a professionalism toolkit.


See also: Florida Bar's Practicing Professionalism Program

Collection of resources provided by the Florida Bar during its Practicing with Professionalism Course in 2018.


Civility in the Legal Profession—Michigan Judicial Institute

The MJI held its Regional Judicial Seminar on January 30, 2018, in order to examine civility in professional conduct. The session was aimed to learn about others’ strategies for promoting civility in the courtroom.


Civility Matters—ABOTA

The American Board of Trial Advocates offers planning guides, lesson plans, and marketing tools for this program intended to instill values and standards that promote high regard for the legal profession. The programs are directed to law schools, bar associations, law firms, and others committed "to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession."


Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

Our Mission To promote a culture of civility and inclusion, in which Illinois lawyers and judges embody the ideals of the legal profession in service to the administration of justice in our democratic society.


The State Bar of Texas Day of Civility Guide

This resource provides comprehensive planning materials for local bar associations to conduct their own Day of Civility Celebration. The purpose is to celebrate civility and educate all members of the bar on this topic.

Michigan's Civility Resources

A Lawyer's Oath

New lawyers take the Lawyer’s Oath in their admission ceremonies to the State Bar of Michigan.


Code of Judicial Conduct (The Canons)

The Code, along with certain provisions of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, Michigan Court Rules, and statutory and case authority, provides the ethical and disciplinary guidelines for judicial officers in the State of Michigan.


Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct

Ethics rules specifically for practicing Michigan attorneys.


Letter to the Court on Professionalism Principles

Representative Assembly approves Professionalism Principles and Commentary, to be considered by Michigan Supreme Court. Frequently Asked Questions about the Professionalism Principles

National Resources

ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct were adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in 1983. They serve as models for the ethics rules of most jurisdictions.


Code of Conduct for Federal Judges

The Code of Conduct for United States Judges includes the ethical canons that apply to federal judges and provides guidance on their performance of official duties and engagement in a variety of outside activities.


U.S. District Court Eastern District of MI—In Re: Civility Principles

Administrative Order of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that adopted civility principals to the local rules, initiated the distribution of the civility principals to any attorney who applies for admission to the court, and established a joint standing committee to consider civility issues.


Center for Professional Responsibility—American Bar Association

The Center for Professional Responsibility provides national leadership in developing and interpreting standards and scholarly resources in legal and judicial ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, and client protection.


Ethics & Professionalism—WMU Cooley Law School

By creating a culture of professionalism within the law school, WMU Cooley inspires excellence, service, and integrity in the souls of those they serve. WMU Cooley fosters high caliber relationships between the WMU Cooley community and the legal and local communities.


Professionalism & Ethics in Lawyer Advertising—American Bar Association

See specifically this article on advertising, marketing, and client Development.


Beyond Smart: Lawyering With Emotional Intelligence—Ronda Muir

“Emotional intelligence” (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and regulate our own and others’ emotions. Industries worldwide have incorporated EI into their education, hiring, training, and management programs to maximize performance. Beyond Smart is the first comprehensive guide to understanding and raising emotional intelligence in the unique context of law practice. It explains the origins of EI, a lawyer’s historic role in developing the concept, how lawyers compare in EI to other professionals, and how to determine your level of EI.


60-Minute Mentoring for Lawyers & Law Students—Amy Timmer & Matthew Cristiano

Amy Timmer, associate dean of students and professionalism at WMU Cooley Law School, and attorney Matthew Cristiano describe how lawyers, law firms, law students, and bar associations can successfully use 60-minute mentoring in place of (or alongside) traditional matched-pair mentoring programs.

Other Publications

20 Professionalism Tips for Millennial Attorneys—2Civility

Article by Michelle Silverthorn in the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s publication of 2Civility seeks to promote a culture of civility and inclusion, in which Illinois lawyers and judges embody the ideals of the legal profession in service to the administration of justice in our democratic society. (January 2015)

Also consider registering for 2Civility blog and news from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. It is a great resource for publications dealing with a range of issues from professionalism to justice to future law and more!


ABA Journal September-October 2019

I Pledge to be Civil: Lawyer speech triggers both civility and constitutional concerns


A Renewed & Much-Needed Conversation on Civility—Michigan Bar Journal

In the Michigan Bar Journal, President Jennifer Grieco calls for members of the Michigan legal community “[t]o be an example for society on civil discourse” by modeling that behavior in their professions. (December 2018)


Bullies on the Bench—Louisiana Law Review

A law review article by Douglas R. Richmond that examines the increasing awareness by courts and judicial commissions of judges who “bully” participants in their courtrooms. The article acknowledges the harm this can bring to the judiciary system as a whole as well as the individuals who work and participate within it. (Winter 2012)


Civility as the Core of Professionalism—Jayne R. Reardon

Civil behavior is a core element of attorney professionalism. As the guardians of the Rule of Law that defines the American social and political fabric, lawyers should embody civility in all they do. Not only do lawyers serve as representatives of their clients, they serve as officers of the legal system and public citizens having special responsibility for the quality of justice.


Civility Reboot: Can Lawyers Learn to be Nicer to One Another?—ABA Journal

Heidi K. Brown examines the decline in civility in the legal profession due to outside pressures and the rise of technology. She calls for attorneys to promote civility in society. (October 2018)


Civility, the Rule of Law, & Lawyers: The ‘Glue’ That Binds Society Against Social Crisis—Sigurdson Post

 “Public discourse and civility lies at the heart of our democracy and our legal profession . . . Unfortunately, there appears to be less civility in society generally today, less courtesy, fewer manners. In the political arena and in public discourse, the rhetoric is harsher and the decibels are higher, and they too frequently overshadow the substance of debates.”
—Eric Sigurdson (November 2016)


For Want of Professionalism—Oakland County Bar Association

In the Oakland County Bar Association President’s Page Gerald J. Gleeson II discusses his thoughts on civility and professionalism in light of his experience working as an attorney. (January 2018)


Goals for Us All: Promoting Civility & Protecting Justice—ABA Journal

In his President’s Message, Bob Carlson writes “the American Bar Association will renew its efforts to work with policymakers to achieve goals important to the legal profession” and discusses how the ABA will achieve those goals. (January 2019)


Is it Time for a Model Organizational Ombuds Act?—Roy Baroff & John Lee

An ombuds is an independent, confidential, informal, and impartial individual who works towards the resolution of particular problems within an entity or with the functioning of an entity. This article discusses the implementation of a Model Organizational Ombuds Act to further define, professionalize, and support ombud practices, services, benefits, and roles with the authority of legislative statute.


Let History Repeat Itself: Humility—Grand Rapids Lawyer

The third in a series of articles, William Azkoul considers the perennial topics of civility and collegiality that have defined the Grand Rapids legal community for generations. (September-October 2016)


The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change—A Report of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being

This report’s recommendations focus on five central themes: (1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with help seeking behaviors, (3) emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, (4) educating lawyers, judges, and law students on lawyer well-being issues, and (5) taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession. (August 2017)


Reflections on Civility: A View from the Bench—BarBeat by Genesee County Bar Association

Sandra Carlson, president of the Centennial Chapter American Inn of Court, summarizes the observations and advice of retiring and long-tenured members of the bench in this insightful article. (p. 10, November/December 2018)


Reps. Stivers, Beatty Announce Creation of the Congressional Civility & Respect Caucus

The Caucus will encourage all members of Congress to act with civility and respect in their political discourse in their congressional districts and in Washington. (January 2018)


Winning Isn’t Everything—Oakland County Bar Association

In the Oakland County Bar Association’s President’s Page, Gerald J. Gleeson II cites Justice John Roberts and discusses the character-building attributes of facing adversity. (November/December 2018)


Your ABA September 2019

Panel offers remedies to growing incivility, “Game of Thrones” attitude in justice system


Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP)

A mentoring resource library of hard copy and electronic materials for the development of educational programs, including but not limited to promoting professionalism, teaching lawyer practical skills, increasing knowledge of legal procedures and best practices and to otherwise improve new-lawyer legal abilities and professional judgment. This resource center is open to all lawyers in Colorado and nationally.


Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism 2Civility Mentoring Program

Creates an opportunity for experienced lawyers to provide professional guidance and share their judgment and skills with lawyers in their early years of practice. Sponsored by over 85 organizations across Illinois, the mentoring program provides a flexible structure for practical learning within the context of the mentoring relationship.


State Bar of Michigan Mentoring Center

State Bar of Michigan page for connecting Michigan attorneys with a mentor or mentee, commonly for assistance in the areas of professional development, ethics, law office management, client communication, and the legal community.


U.S. District Court Eastern District of MI

The Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan Mentoring Programs for civil and criminal attorneys interested in developing federal court practices.