Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

25 Rules of Civil Behavior

If ever there was a time when civility was needed, it’s now.

So let’s take a moment to see what the NC Rules of Professional Conduct have to say about the subject:

“The legal system provides a civilized mechanism for resolving disputes, but only if the lawyers themselves behave with dignity,” according to the Preamble of the RPCs. “A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials…. Although a matter is hotly contested by the parties, a lawyer should treat opposing counsel with courtesy and respect…. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.... A lawyer’s word to another lawyer should be the lawyer’s bond. As professional colleagues, lawyers should encourage and counsel new lawyers by providing advice and mentoring; foster civility among members of the bar by acceding to reasonable requests that do not prejudice the interests of the client; and counsel and assist peers who fail to fulfill their professional duties because of substance abuse, depression, or other personal difficulties.”

Stay on top of your game by maintaining professional liability coverage through Lawyers Mutual. Throughout these trying times, we’ll bring you timely tips, pointers and best practices for keeping your firm safe and successful. It’s what we’ve been doing for North Carolina lawyers since 1977.


Choosing Civility: 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct

In 2002, writer/philosopher Pier Massimo Forni – founder of The Civility Institute at Johns Hopkins – wrote an unassuming little tome called Choosing Civility: 25 Rules of Considerate Behavior

The book went on to become something of a minor classic. It outlines 25 “rules” that combine etiquette and ethics. Forni believed these principles are indispensable to an orderly society, and that people who follow them enjoy happier and more effective lives. Here are the 25 rules: 

  1. Pay attention
  2. Acknowledge others
  3. Think the best
  4. Listen
  5. Be inclusive
  6. Speak kindly
  7. Don’t speak ill
  8. Accept and give praise
  9. Respect even a subtle “no”
  10. Respect others’ opinions
  11. Mind your body
  12. Be agreeable
  13. Keep it down (and rediscover silence)
  14. Respect other people’s time
  15. Respect other people’s space
  16. Apologize earnestly
  17. Assert yourself
  18. Avoid personal questions
  19. Care for your guests
  20. Be a considerate guest
  21. Think twice before asking for favors
  22. Refrain from idle complaints
  23. Accept and give constructive criticism
  24. Respect the environment and be gentle
  25. Don’t shift responsibility and blame


Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact or 919-619-2441.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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