Small group discussions held during McGeorge School of Law’s Orientation 2023 yielded many excellent suggestions. The following Community Standards for Civil Discourse synthesize the recurring themes discussed and act as a consensus to guide McGeorge students throughout their law school journeys. The Community Standards for Civil Discourse act as a set of ground rules for students to maintain civil, thoughtful, and constructive discussion.

  1. Understand that the law school classroom is a “Brave Space,” and not necessarily a “Safe Space.”
  2. Listen actively, with openness, and with empathy. Recognize that all are here to learn, including learning from each other.
  3. Assume the best in each other. Recognize the difference between intent and impact. Get clarification before assuming what another person meant or intended.
  4. Value multiple perspectives. There may be several valid “truths” or legally valid arguments. Give others space to express their views without facial or verbal reactions. Seek out others with different points of view.
  5. Have the courage to embrace making mistakes and consider acknowledging mistakes publicly. Learning from inevitable error is part of a “Growth Mindset.”
  6. Be aware of your own biases, check your blind spots, and be mindful that we all have different experiences that inform our points of view.
  7. Do not personalize debate. Use “I” statement and avoid “You” statements. Respond to the substance of the legal argument and not the person. No personally demeaning comments should be part of the McGeorge law school culture though there must be room for significant disagreements about policy and legal perspectives.
  8. Treat others as you wish to be treated – with kindness, patience, and empathy. Understand that everyone will have stressful times during law school and may not be at their best.
  9. Get to know your classmates as people with valuable perspectives and important lived experiences.
  10. Work collaboratively. Offer support to others.
  11. Be your authentic self and give space to others so they can do the same.
  12. Strive to defuse tense situations. Do not meet incivility with more incivility. Do not let hurt feelings linger. Strive to resolve disagreements amicably and directly. Seek out others when needed to assist with resolving disputes.
  13. Reflect before speaking and endeavor to allow others to speak if you have already done so.