We take civility very seriously at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Law schools are laboratories for democracy, and lawyers are charged with the highest duty of creating, upholding and promoting legal structures that protect everyone equally. This must be done with respect.
It’s a test for all of us. There is always a temptation to say, “My view is the only view,” but that perspective won’t foster change. An important step is to say, “I am here, I am listening, I am open. Let me demonstrate my openness so we can build trust.” It’s crucial to acknowledge that we all are still learning.
At Loyola Law Chicago, we stress deliberateness, thoughtfulness, mindfulness and awareness of self in everything we do. Showing up with openness requires work, and our faculty and staff model that work every day. Our goal is to create a critical space for discourse. We encourage discussion and facilitate inclusion. We welcome diverse voices into the conversation.
For example, Professional Identity Formation is a required course for our first-year law students. In the course, they gain practical tools to negotiate tough conversations, solve problems and resolve disputes with civility, respect and trust. They learn to fortify mindfulness and create space for nuanced conversations, as well as recognize and eliminate personal bias. Developing those skills must be a priority alongside doctrinal, experiential and clinical training.
I value the collaboration of our faculty and staff colleagues in this work. Together, we are laser focused on this important job of safeguarding civility and respect. This concerted effort makes me feel very hopeful. We’re seeing our students graduate with civility as a standard. As Loyola lawyers, they intervene in the cycle of disrespect, turning volatile conversations into fruitful and forward-thinking, problem-solving endeavors. That is progress.