social dynamics of the bar
The Delaware Bar is renowned for professional courtesy, and proud of it. What is interesting to me are the tiny subcultures of the bar that develop within the different areas of practice, and how they will be affected by the construction of the New Castle County Courthouse and the rising population. Of particular contrast is the calm and orderly atmosphere of Chancery as compared to the rough and tumble emotionally charged Family Court litigants. I will be watching the new interaction of these populations as they move from their separate buildings into the crucible of the new courthouse.
My theory as to why Delaware has thus far been able to maintain a high degree of congeniality as amongst the bar, is tied to Delaware's small size and small number of attorneys. In a profession where you deal with the same small group of attorneys every day, and where the ability to deal and rely upon one another's word is important, congeniality and professionalism are traits that foster a successful career and more efficient dispute resolution for our clients. As compared with the social dynamics of a large city where the citizenry and even the members of the bar are so numerous as to be anonymous to one another, there is less incentive to mind one's manners.
As the size of Delaware and the Delaware Bar rises, I regret to predict that shades of that anonymity will enshroud us and gradually degrade that congeniality and professionalism. I regret it because the high standards that we strive in this small group are what makes practicing law in Delaware such a precious delight (if one can refer to hard work in that manner). I am not sure what impact the change in the physical structure of the new courthouse will have upon the interrelationship between the members of the bar and the litigants, but I will be watching.
Some of the courts are scheduled to begin moving into the new building in August of 2002.