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Board adopts civility code

The State Bar Board of Governors adopted a set of voluntary civility guidelines last month that are designed to restrain unprofessional behavior by attorneys.

The guidelines, based on the Santa Clara County Bar Association's Code of Professionalism, address eight areas: civility, professional integrity, personal dignity, candor, diligence, respect, courtesy and cooperation.

"The dignity, decorum and courtesy that have traditionally characterized the courts and legal profession of civilized nations are not empty formalities," the guidelines state. "They are essential to an atmosphere that promotes justice and to an attorney's responsibility for the fair and impartial administration of justice."

The guidelines are the result of a campaign pledge of bar President Sheldon Sloan to eliminate what he has characterized as a win-at-all-costs behavior of some lawyers.

Individual attorneys are encouraged to sign on to the guidelines voluntarily, but they are not professional rules that can be used as the basis for attorney discipline.

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