David A. Grenardo

2023 American Inns of Court Warren E. Burger Prize

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–David A. Grenardo is the 2023 winner of the prestigious Warren E. Burger Prize, a writing competition sponsored by the American Inns of Court to promote scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence. To be presented at the 2023 Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States, the award recognizes Grenardo’s essay “Debunking the Major Myths Surrounding Mandatory Civility for Lawyers Plus Five Mandatory Civility Rules That Will Work.”

The winning essay urges all state bars to join Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and South Carolina in mandating civil behavior by attorneys.

Such mandates prompt vociferous opposition, writes Grenardo, but such opposition is often based on myths, including the belief that mandatory civility rules inhibit zealous advocacy and that such rules are too vague and difficult to enforce. After dispelling those and other myths, Grenardo proposes five mandatory civility rules that he says will work: avoiding disparaging remarks about individuals, communicating with opposing counsel to avoid scheduling conflicts, granting reasonable extensions of time to opposing counsel, clearly identifying changes in documents submitted for review, and accurately and completely committing oral understandings to writing. If a lawyer substantially or repeatedly violates any of these rules, Grenardo suggests, the state bar could sanction that individual.

Grenardo is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis and associate director of the school’s Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. Grenardo’s scholarship focuses on professional responsibility, the practice of law, legal pedagogy, and sports law.  

Before joining St. Thomas Law in 2022, Grenardo was a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. For almost a decade before becoming an academic in 2011, he practiced law at Jones Day, DLA Piper, and King & Spalding LLP in Texas and California. Grenardo specialized in complex commercial litigation, while also dedicating much of his time to pro bono work on behalf of domestic violence victims, the developmentally disabled, First Amendment litigants, and others. He received many awards for his pro bono work, including the State Bar of Texas’s Frank J. Scurlock Award, the State Bar of California’s Wiley W. Manuel Award, and the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Pro Bono Champion award.

Grenardo earned his undergraduate degree from Rice University and his law degree from Duke University School of Law.