TEN DO’S OF ETHICS
1. DO Be an Officer of the Court. The phrase “officer of the court” is often used. If all lawyers on all sides of controversies took that obligation seriously, litigation and life would be easier. Our image would be better.
2. DO Help Your Fellow Attorneys. This may even include your opponent --- so long as you are not acting adversely to your client’s interest.
3. DO Be Humane. We may all have opportunities to be humane and give consideration for professional or personal problems that another lawyer has or that a party or witness has. We should exercise every chance we get to do that.
4. DO Challenge “the Law.” The reporters are full of incredibly wrongheaded decisions by judges who were deemed to be an absolutely brilliant in their time. Plessy v. Ferguson. Remember that such terrible decisions were the only superseded through the efforts of new lawyers.
5. DO Expedite Litigation. “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.” Rule 3.2, Rules of Professional Conduct. “Dilatory practices bring he administration of justice into disrepute.” Id. ,Comment.
6. DO Disclose Adverse Authority. It is a lawyer’s affirmative obligation to “disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel.” Rule 3.3(a)(3), Rules of Professional Conduct.
7. DO Refuse to Offer False Evidence. “A lawyer shall not knowingly offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.” Rule 3.3(a)(4), Rules of Professional Conduct.
8. DO Be Diligent. “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. Rule 1.3, Rules of Professional conduct. “ A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer, and may take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client’s cause or endeavor.” Id., Comment.
9. DO Respect the Judge. We undermine our system whenever we display our own personal contempt for a judge. The better course is to reverse a bad decision on appeal.
10. DO Keep Information Confidential. A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after a consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation.” Rule 1.6 Rules of Professional Conduct. All lawyers should re-dedicate themselves to the principles of preserving confidences and a client’s privacy.
TEN DON’TS OF ETHICS
1. DON’T Ever Deal an Enemy a Small Blow. This principle of Machianvellian politics avoids unnecessary hostility from opposing attorneys. The better course is to strive professionally and courteously for the big blow --- a verdict in favor of your client.
2. DON’T Gloat of Do End-Zone Dances. Televised coverage of athletic events daily shows us how professional athletes in all sports have decided that self-adulation and self-congratulations are now accepted after even the smallest personal triumphs. We in this profession should avoid that appearance.
3. DON’T Have a Prejudice Against a Class of lawyers. There are so many prejudices now against lawyers that we should avoid within-group prejudices, such as against plaintiffs vs. defense attorneys, trial vs. office lawyers, etc.
4. DON’T Be a Slave to Fees. Many Bar complaints derive from fee disputes. Strive to be so successful that fees do not enslave you.
5. DON’T Be a Slave to Winning. Although we are told in other endeavors that “Winning is everything,” we should try to remember that we are in a business where truly “Justice is everything.”
6. DON’T Talk Dirty or Unprofessional. In this day and time of widespread availability of electronic devices, we will very often be recorded when we do not expect to be so. Therefore, we should all maintain the highest possible professional tone and content in all of our conversations.
7. DON’T build a Practice on Trickery. This reputation, once established, is practically impossible to shake. Instead of trickery, use talent.
8. DON’T Resent Client’s Questions. It is important to remember that most of our clients are somewhat frightened of the legal system. We should not resent their questions, and should be willing to give of our time freely to be certain that they understand the process in which they find themselves.
9. DON’T Be Frivolous. “A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous….” “The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client’s cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure.” Rule 3.1, rules of Professional Conduct. Id., Comment.
10. DON’T Ignore the Contributions of Other Professionals. Many law school professors have left us with the impression that our profession is the only socially worthwhile or intellectually adequate profession. We need to acknowledge the he contributions made by others to our civilizations. Never believe that we have some corner or intellect or worthwhile contributions.