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Child CustodyI discovered the zeal that I had been searching for. See “Where’s the Zeal?”, NYLJ (April 22, 2019). I found it in the most counterintuitive and unhealthy place. In 2009, the Rules of Professional Conduct superseded the former Disciplinary Rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility and removed the term “zealousness” from the adversarial system. In its place, New York State Professional Rules of Conduct provided that a “lawyer shall not intentionally fail to seek the objectives of the client through reasonable available means” or prejudice the client during the representation. The basis for the change was to de-escalate the conflict within the adversarial system and promote civility and wellness amongst attorneys and their respective clients.

To improve the wellness of the legal profession, the Task Force recommended that all stakeholders develop and enforce standards of collegiality and respectful engagement. Judges, regulators, practicing lawyers, law students, and professors continually interact with each other, clients, opposing parties, staff, and many others. Those interactions can either foment a toxic culture that contributes to poor health or can foster a respectful culture that supports well-being.

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