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Ethical Responsibility And The Model Code of Professional Responsibility

published April 09, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing

( 20 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)

What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
An attorney, as a vital component of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having distinctive charge, concern and responsibility for the excellence and quality of justice. He is there to perform his duty as an advisor to provide his client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and clarifies their practical implications. In all professional functions an attorney should be competent, prompt and diligent and his conduct should conform to Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Issues concerning legal ethics affect all legal practitioners. The Model Code of Professional Responsibility, which governs lawyer conduct in practice situations, was promulgated by the American Bar Association and adopted in some form by each state; state judicial courts ultimately decide the standards of lawyer conduct for each individual state.

The American Bar Association steadfastly pursues its objective of guaranteeing the utmost standards of professional competency and ethical behavior. The Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, that has the duty of deducing the professional standards of the Association and recommending suitable modifications and explanations, issues views inferring the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Code of Judicial Conduct. These views and submissions of the Committee are published by the American Bar Association in many hard bound volumes containing their viewpoints from 1924 till date.

All states in the country have a monitoring body, normally called a state bar association that monitors lawyer behavior. When lawyers are licensed to practice in a state, they are governed by the bar association and have to subject themselves to this authority. However, complete responsibility, time and again lies with the highest court in a state, like a state supreme court, the state bar associations, often after discussion with the court, approve and embrace a set of rules that determine the pertinent ethical duties.

Lawyers who fail to conform to the local rules of ethics or flout them may be subjected to disciplinary punishment ranging from private, non-public, warning and admonishment to disbarment for habitually flouters of rules.

The ethical areas which seem to be most relevant to labor practice are those involving litigation, negotiation, and conflicts of interest.

Litigation:

Litigation issues appear to be no different for labor attorneys than for other trial lawyers. All aspects of the proper conduct for trial attorneys are carefully described and explained in the model code and are taught in evidence, trial practice, and most clinical courses in law schools.

Negotiation:

Negotiation issues appear to be the area where the unique aspects of a labor practice are most salient. Both union-side and management-side attorneys shared concerns about their ability to fairly represent the client at the bargaining table when the client does not give the attorney all the information necessary to the negotiation, requests the attorney's participation in or acquiescence to a patently illegal act, or, as one attorney reported, offers a bribe if the attorney will counsel the client to accept contract terms which will be detrimental to the client's interests.

A union attorney reported that the pressures of a difficult or hostile negotiation can be very intense, causing compromising situations to develop if an attorney lacks experience in dealing with them.

Conflicts Of Interest:

Conflicts of interest appear to be the most prevalent of all legal ethics issues for labor specialists. Union-side representatives report difficulties inherent in representing a union's officers, as the policymakers of the union and at the same time representing its members, each of whom may have different, and possibly conflicting, needs at a given time.

Another area of conflict for a union attorney might arise over the difficulty in representing individual workers who might have conflicting grievances. One union attorney described a situation where two workers were competing for a supervisory position. The employee who had a more extensive academic background was chosen over the employee who had been with the company longer. When the employee who was passed over for the position filed a grievance, he was given, at union expense, outside counsel. Since the case would have meant the loss of the promotion by the other employee, it would have been a conflict for the attorney whose function it was to represent the union and all of its members equally.

Management attorneys reported having many of the same concerns about conflicts of interest. They also are often asked to advise and counsel management employees of a particular company on questions that could have the result of being in conflict with the best interests of the company.

One management attorney described his discomfort at finding himself in a conflict of interest question over the firing of an employee. He stated that it was easy, as a management representative working very closely with managers on policy matters, to lose perspective on an issue of ethical concern.

All labor practitioners surveyed expressed the conviction that ethical questions appear naturally as part of almost any practice situation. To paraphrase one attorney's comment, to keep out of trouble, you have to be familiar with the model code, use your common sense, and ask someone if you are unsure.

Attorneys, as protectors of the law, play a critical role in the safeguarding of society. The actualization of this role requires a comprehension by attorneys of their connection and association with and function in the country's legal system. It is therefore a serious responsibility of lawyers to observe and uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct. In fulfilling his professional duties, an attorney has to wear many garbs according to the task that he has to perform. However, not all state of affairs which the attorney may encounter can be predicted or anticipated, but basic ethical principles remain constant to guide and direct him in his actions.
( 20 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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