April 2011 Bar Bulletin
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April 2011 Bar Bulletin

SU School of Law Tackles Civility in Groundbreaking Program


From bad behavior documented on reality TV to mean-spirited political rhetoric, the call for civility in society has been amplified by lawmakers, lawyers and the media. Seattle University School of Law Prof. Paula Lustbader and her family foundation are doing their part to restore civility with a pioneering program called "The Civility Promise."

Lustbader is a longstanding advocate for diversity in the legal profession and director of the law school's Academic Resource Center. "The 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 co-sponsored by the law school and Robert's Fund. Program seminars have included "Igniting a Culture of Civility: Fostering Respect and Care in the Legal Profession;" "Civility Matters: Benefits to the Parties, the Practitioner, and the Profession;" and "Civility Speaks: The Skilled Behaviors That Embody Care and Respect."

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.

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