Five Tips for Re-committing to Civility and Comradery

“We all got more comfortable working from home and making virtual court appearances, which might make us more efficient lawyers and save our clients some money, but we all know what we lost during the pandemic as lawyers.” Read more from this message from CCBA President Brandon Kemble published in the Five Things issue of the bar journal Communiqué (Jan. 2023).

Hello friends. It’s my honor to serve as your president for the next year. I want to start by thanking Nedda Ghandi for her service this last year. Nedda presided over the CCBA as we came out of the pandemic, and I am grateful for the work she did bringing us back together as a legal community.

The world changed during the pandemic. We all got more comfortable working from home and making virtual court appearances, which might make us more efficient lawyers and save our clients some money, but we all know what we lost during the pandemic as lawyers. We made fewer professional friends, and we had less fun as a group of lawyers. We might have become a little less civil.

A few months ago, I spoke to the new admittees to our bar. I asked them to help preserve what most of us know to be special about our bar – the friendly, small bar feel we have been able to maintain as Clark County has so quickly grown around us. To do my part, I am re-committing to civility and comradery this year. I am starting from scratch and assuming I know nothing about life and the law, which is probably closer to the truth anyway. I found these five civility tips from the Hon. Paul M. Warner useful:

  1. It’s a long road without a turn in it. What goes around, comes around. This is the best reason for civility. Everyone needs a little extra consideration from opposing counsel occasionally. If it doesn’t prejudice your case or client, do it.
  2. Don’t be so concerned with winning the battle that you lose the war. Just because the other side wants it, doesn’t mean you should automatically oppose it. Sometimes, it can be win-win, especially for settlement purposes and civil discovery disputes.
  3. Never mistake reasonableness for weakness. The really good lawyers can be tough as nails on the issues and yet always remain civil and courteous. Strive to be one.
  4. Waste not, want not. Incivility, and the behaviors that constitute it, almost always result in wasted resources of time and money—the lawyer’s time, the client’s money, and both time and money for the courts.
  5. If you don’t write it or say it, you don’t have to explain it. “Poison pen” emails and letters feel good to write but rarely should be sent. Outrageous language and accusations in briefs are the functional equivalent of shouting in court. Don’t dignify such boorish behaviors by responding to them.

The full article, “Ten Tips on Civility and Professionalism,” including a few more useful tips, can be found here: https://www.fedbar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Ten-Tips-pdf-1.pdf. I asked the new admittees for one more thing. I asked them to come have some fun with the members of this bar. I think that’s the best way to save our civility. So, I am asking you to come have some fun with us at one of our upcoming social or learning events. I hope to see you soon.

About this article: This article was originally published in the “Five Things” issue of Communiqué (January 2023), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2023/communique-january-2023/.

About the author
Brandon Kemble

Brandon Kemble is an Assistant City Attorney in the Civil Division with the City of Henderson. Brandon handles litigation for the city and provides legal advice and legislative support for various city departments. Brandon serves as the CCBA President through December 2023.

© 2023 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.