Douglas M. DeGrave and CAL-ABOTA Lead Successful Effort to Have “Civility Pledge” Added to Oath for California Bar Admission

CAL-ABOTA has successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court and the State Bar of California seeking a modification to the oath taken by attorneys to include a pledge of civility.

Douglas M. DeGrave, a Founding Partner of Poliquin & DeGrave LLP and immediate past president of the California Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates (CAL-ABOTA), chaired the committee that petitioned the California Supreme Court and the State Bar of California seeking the modification to the oath taken by attorneys when being admitted to practice law.

The committee, which included Mr. DeGrave, Christopher J. Day and William B. Smith, pushed for the change, believing the addition to the oath will be the beginning of a new public perception of attorneys.

On April 23, 2014 the committee’s request became a reality when the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, approved a new Rule of Court. The rule modifies the oath to include a pledge of dignity, courtesy, and integrity.

The current oath, “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” is being amended with the addition of the following pledge: “As an officer of the court, I will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.”

Calling the revision a “historic moment for the legal community,” DeGrave hopes that the new language will help remind those who’ve forgotten that dignity, courtesy, and integrity are the principles to which attorneys, as professionals, should always adhere. And, according to the letter Mr. DeGrave wrote to his fellow CAL-ABOTA members, announcing the approval of the new rule, “If we aspire to live up to the words in this new pledge…we will benefit as individuals and as a profession.”

In his letter, Mr. DeGrave made note of the instrumental efforts by the 2013 President of the State Bar, Patrick Kelly, and Senator Joseph Dunn, Executive Director of the State Bar, to help forward this accomplishment. DeGrave also singled out the support of the Chief Justice as being influential in the realization of the change.

Lawyers admitted to the California bar will include the “civility pledge” in their oaths as of May 23, 2014. The addition of the new language represents the first major change to the oath since it was codified into law in 1872.

About CAL-ABOTA – CAL-ABOTA was originally formed in 1977. Currently, CAL-ABOTA represents the more than 1,500 California ABOTA members and the 8 California ABOTA chapters. Equally represented by plaintiff and defense trial lawyers, CAL-ABOTA stands uniquely ready to address issues of concern to all trial lawyers and judges and to protect the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the Constitution.

Membership in CAL-ABOTA is by invitation only. Any trial lawyer who is of high personal character and honorable reputation, and who is a member of the Bar of the State, province, district, territory or country in which he or she practices, and who has met the qualifications as prescribed in Article III, Section 2, may become a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates upon nomination, election, and payment of initiation fees and dues.

About Douglas M. DeGrave – Douglas M. DeGrave is a founding partner of Poliquin & DeGrave LLP and has been in practice for nearly thirty years. Prior to forming his own firm, Mr. DeGrave was the managing partner in the Orange County office of a large Southern California insurance defense firm where he worked for eighteen years. Mr. DeGrave received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which he has held since 1995. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii while serving in the United States Army. After his military service, Mr. DeGrave attended California State University at Long Beach, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Mr. DeGrave is the immediate past president of Cal-ABOTA and serves on the national board of directors. He is a member of the National Board of Trial Advocates and is one of only 100 lawyers certified as a civil trial specialist in California. He is also a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute and the Orange County Bar Association.