I don’t know whether incivility is trending up in absolute terms, but we live in a fractious society, one where even our leaders call one another “liars,” level harsh criticism and engage in insulting name-calling. This conduct is tolerated by too many and actually admired by some.

Attorneys may choose incivility in the mistaken belief that it makes them look tough or effective. In fact, nearly always, the opposite is true. Shrill or harsh words, insults, disdainful comments — this conduct signals weakness, not strength. Like it or not, most cases are won or lost on facts. Jurors do their best to look past the performance of the lawyers, whether that performance is dazzling, dry or even rude. But jurors do take note of incivility. They find it distracting and uncomfortable. They recognize that it is inconsistent with the respect that our system of justice requires for credibility. So, incivility is a lose-lose-lose proposition: It never contributes to a legal victory; it is distasteful to judges, coworkers and opposing counsel; and it undermines the public’s trust in and respect for the law and the legal system.

All of us have worked hard for our law degrees. We must also work hard to ensure that the profession is admired for its dignity.