Model Rules of Professional Responsibility
The American Bar Association developed the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility to resolve an attorney's moral and ethical dilemmas. The Model Code of Professional Responsibility is broken up into several sections. While this code comprehensively lays out guidelines for lawyers struggling to make sense of their ethical and moral choices, the guidelines that may be particularly relevant to clients are:
- A lawyer should preserve the confidences and secrets of a client:
- This means that the lawyer can never use a client's confidence or secret to his personal advantage or for personal gain. Typically, a lawyer can only divulge a client's confidence with the client's consent and only after the lawyer gives full disclosure as to the legal consequences of that disclosure.
- A lawyer can reveal confidences if such confidence is a client's intent to commit a crime. Furthermore, a lawyer may submit such information as to prevent that crime from happening.
- A lawyer should exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of a client:
- A lawyer cannot accept employment from a client when he has a financial, business, property, or personal conflict of interest. If these interests would affect the exercise of a lawyer?s professional judgment, then that lawyer cannot accept employment from a client.
- Furthermore, a lawyer is to refrain from acquiring a financial interest (other than his own legal fees) in the cases he takes.
- Additionally, a lawyer is to refrain from entering into business agreements with a client if those business interests differ. Exceptions are made if the client consents after the lawyer gives full disclosure of the legal consequences of entering into this kind of agreement.
- This also means that a lawyer cannot represent more than one client when there is a conflict of interests between clients. Again, exceptions can be made if all clients consent to representation after the attorney gives full disclosure of all the legal consequences of maintaining such a relationship.
- A lawyer should represent a client completely:
- If a lawyer knows that he is not competent to handle a legal matter, that lawyer is generally required to consult with a lawyer that can handle it.
- Furthermore, a lawyer should not handle a legal matter without preparation adequate under the circumstances.
- Finally, a lawyer is not allowed to neglect a case that has been entrusted to him.
- A lawyer should represent his client zealously within the bounds of the law:
- However, in cases where a client?s conduct could arguably be legal, a lawyer may refuse aid or participate in conduct he believes is illegal.
- Furthermore, a lawyer may not assert a position, file a suit, delay trial, or take actions on behalf of his client when he knows that such actions are undertaken merely to harass or maliciously injure another individual. Furthermore, a public prosecutor or other governmental lawyer may not bring charges without probable cause.
- A lawyer cannot knowingly use perjured testimony or false evidence.
- A lawyer cannot knowingly assert false statements of law or fact.
- A lawyer cannot preserve or create evidence which he knows is false.
- A lawyer cannot assist his client in conduct he knows to be illegal or fraudulent.
- Furthermore, if a lawyer receives information that his client has conducted a fraud on a person or tribunal he/she must ask the client to rectify the fraud. If the client is unable and unwilling, the lawyer must reveal the fraud to the individual or tribunal. A lawyer is prevented from doing this if the information is protected as a privileged communication.
I Think My Attorney Has Committed Malpractice. What Should I Do?
The first thing you should do is file a complaint with your attorney's State Bar Association. The Bar Association is an organization that licenses and regulates attorneys for each individual state. The Bar Association cannot, however, help you recover any damages you've suffered. To recover damages, you have to sue your attorney in court.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with My Attorney Malpractice Problem?
Proving that your attorney committed malpractice can be difficult. You have to know exactly what constitutes malpractice and show that your attorney actually committed malpractice. An experienced malpractice attorney can help you determine whether or not you're a victim of attorney malpractice. Additionally, a lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and help pursue your attorney malpractice case in court if necessary.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 08-24-2009 11:33 AM PDT
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