Model Rules of Professional Conduct: Preamble & Scope (2023)

Preamble: A Lawyer's Responsibilities

[1] A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

[2] As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealings with others. As an evaluator, a lawyer acts by examining a client's legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.

[3] In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. Some of these Rules apply directly to lawyers who are or have served as third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules 1.12 and 2.4. In addition, there are Rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a lawyer who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.4.

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[4] In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

[5] A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.

[6] As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

[7] Many of a lawyer's professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession's ideals of public service.

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[8] A lawyer's responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done. So also, a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.

[9] In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer's responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the lawyer's own interest in remaining an ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules, however, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the Rules. These principles include the lawyer's obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client's legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.

[10] The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the legal profession is vested largely in the courts.

[11] To the extent that lawyers meet the obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession's independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.

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[12] The legal profession's relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.

[13] Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.

Scope

[14] The Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are imperatives, cast in the terms "shall" or "shall not." These define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term "may," are permissive and define areas under the Rules in which the lawyer has discretion to exercise professional judgment. No disciplinary action should be taken when the lawyer chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the lawyer and others. The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in that they define a lawyer's professional role. Many of the Comments use the term "should." Comments do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules.

[15] The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the lawyer's role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of lawyers and substantive and procedural law in general. The Comments are sometimes used to alert lawyers to their responsibilities under such other law.

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[16] Compliance with the Rules, as with all law in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.

[17] Furthermore, for purposes of determining the lawyer's authority and responsibility, principles of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a client-lawyer relationship exists. Most of the duties flowing from the client-lawyer relationship attach only after the client has requested the lawyer to render legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. See Rule 1.18. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.

[18] Under various legal provisions, including constitutional, statutory and common law, the responsibilities of government lawyers may include authority concerning legal matters that ordinarily reposes in the client in private client-lawyer relationships. For example, a lawyer for a government agency may have authority on behalf of the government to decide upon settlement or whether to appeal from an adverse judgment. Such authority in various respects is generally vested in the attorney general and the state's attorney in state government, and their federal counterparts, and the same may be true of other government law officers. Also, lawyers under the supervision of these officers may be authorized to represent several government agencies in intragovernmental legal controversies in circumstances where a private lawyer could not represent multiple private clients. These Rules do not abrogate any such authority.

[19] Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a lawyer's conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a lawyer often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.

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[20] Violation of a Rule should not itself give rise to a cause of action against a lawyer nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached. In addition, violation of a Rule does not necessarily warrant any other nondisciplinary remedy, such as disqualification of a lawyer in pending litigation. The Rules are designed to provide guidance to lawyers and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability. Furthermore, the purpose of the Rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as procedural weapons. The fact that a Rule is a just basis for a lawyer's self-assessment, or for sanctioning a lawyer under the administration of a disciplinary authority, does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the Rule. Nevertheless, since the Rules do establish standards of conduct by lawyers, a lawyer's violation of a Rule may be evidence of breach of the applicable standard of conduct.

[21] The Comment accompanying each Rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the Rule. The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The Comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each Rule is authoritative.

Preface | Chairperson's Introduction | Ethics 2000 Chair's Introduction
Table of Contents| Order Publication

FAQs

What are the guidelines for professional conduct? ›

Guidelines for Professional Conduct
  • Responsibilities to the Public. ...
  • Responsibilities to the Client. ...
  • Scheduling. ...
  • Continuances and Extensions of Time. ...
  • Service of Papers. ...
  • Punctuality. ...
  • Writings Submitted to the Court. ...
  • Communications with Opponents or Adversaries.

What are the responsibilities of a professional? ›

Common Competencies of Professional Responsibility

Honesty - being trustworthy, loyal, sincere, and fair. Integrity - consistency between actions, values, expectations, and outcomes. Transparency - operating where others can see what actions are performed.

Can a lawyer refuse a client Philippines? ›

Rule 2.01 - A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed. Rule 2.02 - In such cases, even if the lawyer does not accept a case, he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person concerned if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter's rights.

What are the five rules of conduct? ›

The Rules of Conduct are based on ethical principles of honesty, integrity, competence, service, respect and responsibility.

What is the importance of professional conduct? ›

Professional behavior helps separate business from the personal; it keeps relationships limited to the business context at hand. For example, a judge cannot have personal conversations with a plaintiff or defendant. Bank tellers represent the institution as they perform transactions for the customers.

What are some professional values? ›

Professional values to adopt in the workplace
  • Strong work ethic. Work ethic is a trait that most employers look for right away in an employee. ...
  • Responsibility. ...
  • Integrity. ...
  • Honesty. ...
  • Reliability. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Accountability. ...
  • Self motivation.

Does my attorney have to give me my file? ›

The file should be handed over immediately upon request. If the attorney's fees are paid in full, the attorney cannot hold the file back for the cost of any copies that the attorney has made, because the attorney cannot charge the client for these copies.

Which Rules of Professional Conduct do solicitors need to follow? ›

Solicitors must act: in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice. in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors' profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons.

What if a lawyer knows client is guilty? ›

When a lawyer has actual knowledge that a client has committed perjury or submitted false evidence, the lawyer's first duty is to remonstrate with the client in an effort to convince the client to voluntarily correct the perjured testimony or false evidence.

What are the four responsibilities of lawyers? ›

Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for natural and juristic persons. Conduct legal research and gather evidence. Ensure that appropriate approvals are in place before documents are executed. Explain the law and give legal advice.

Can your lawyer turn you in? ›

A criminal defense lawyer won't turn you in to the police. Rather, they will give you advice on how to proceed, guide you through the process, and advocate for you.

What is the first rule of conduct? ›

It is expected that participants behave properly and positively at all times. Participants should show respect and courtesy to others and help ensure a safe and inclusive environment.

What is the purpose of rules of conduct? ›

These rules provide agents with specific guidance on the professional and ethical standards to which the public expects them to adhere. There are 21 core rules which apply to all licence and certificate holders, and additional specific rules which apply to the various categories of agency work.

What is rule of conduct explain? ›

The Rules of Conduct is a set of implementing laws of professional practice that seek to express the primary examples of ethical behavior consistent with the Code of Ethics.

What professional conduct means? ›

Professional conduct is the field of regulation of members of professional bodies, either acting under statutory or contractual powers. Historically, professional conduct was wholly undertaken by the private professional bodies, the sole legal authority for which was of a contractual nature.

What are your professional values answer? ›

In your answer, explain that doing the right thing is important to you in all settings. Discuss how important your values are and the steps you take to make ethical choices. Example: "I define integrity as maintaining your own moral code, no matter who's around.

What are 5 professionalism skills? ›

Employers want new workers to be responsible, ethical, and team oriented, and to possess strong communication, interpersonal, and problem solving skills. Wrap these skills up all together and you've got professionalism.

What are your best qualities as a professional? ›

The eight core characteristics of professionalism are: Competence, Knowledge, Conscientiousness, Integrity, Respect, Emotional Intelligence, Appropriateness, and Confidence. By finding ways to strengthen each of these attributes, you can become confident to act professionally wherever you find yourself working.

What is the most common complaint against lawyers? ›

Perhaps the most common kinds of complaints against lawyers involve delay or neglect. This doesn't mean that occasionally you've had to wait for a phone call to be returned. It means there has been a pattern of the lawyer's failing to respond or to take action over a period of months.

What 4 things should you consider before filing a law suit? ›

8 Factors to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit
  • Cost/Benefit. First and foremost, you must do a cost/benefit analysis of the potential lawsuit. ...
  • Chance of winning. ...
  • Alternatives. ...
  • Collectible. ...
  • Time. ...
  • Willing to involve witnesses. ...
  • Statute of limitations. ...
  • Privacy.

What is unethical for a lawyer? ›

Attorney misconduct may include: conflict of interest, overbilling, refusing to represent a client for political or professional motives, false or misleading statements, knowingly accepting worthless lawsuits, hiding evidence, abandoning a client, failing to disclose all relevant facts, arguing a position while ...

What are the 6 standards of conduct? ›

Six Standards of Practice
  • The Public and Our Environment.
  • Customer Relations.
  • Government Relations.
  • Marketing Practices and Quality of Information.
  • Professional and Fair Behaviour.
  • Knowledge and Obedience of the Law.

What are the 4 principles in the code of conduct? ›

The Code of Ethics reflects what we value as professionals and establishes expectations for our scientific and clinical practice based on principles of duty, accountability, fairness, and responsibility.

What are the 4 domains of the code of conduct? ›

Person/ women centred practice. Cultural practice and respectful relationships. Professional behaviour.
...
The four main domains described in the Code of conduct are;
  • Practice legally.
  • Practice safely, effectively and collaboratively.
  • Act with professional integrity.
  • Promote health and wellbeing.
16 May 2018

What are 3 main duties and professional responsibilities of a lawyer? ›

Lawyers typically do the following: Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, and in private legal matters. Communicate with their clients, colleagues, judges, and others involved in the case. Conduct research and analysis of legal problems.

What is the golden rule for solicitors? ›

The golden rule

It outlines that when a solicitor has doubts as to the capacity of client wanting to make a will, medical opinion should be sought. The signing of the will ought to be witnessed or approved by a medical practitioner, who should be completely satisfied that the client has testamentary capacity.

What is professional conduct of lawyers? ›

Professional ethics are those set code or moral principles that govern a person's conduct in a professional workplace or work life. In the legal profession, a lawyer must obey to professional codes for fair dealing with the client and uphold the self-possession.

How do you convince a judge your innocent? ›

7 Types of Evidence that Can Be Used to Prove Innocence in South Carolina
  1. Witness Testimony. Witness testimony can be used to prove innocence in two ways. ...
  2. Phone Records. ...
  3. Employment, Bank Account, or Other Records. ...
  4. Surveillance Camera Footage. ...
  5. Phone Photos or Videos. ...
  6. Other Records. ...
  7. DNA Evidence.
25 Aug 2022

Can lawyers lie during negotiations? ›

Bar ethics rules prohibit lawyers from lying outright. The American Bar Association in model professional rule 4.1 says that it's unacceptable for lawyers to “knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law” when representing a client.

Can lawyers snitch on clients? ›

Most, but not necessarily all, of what you tell your lawyer is privileged. The attorney-client privilege is a rule that protects the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. Under the rule, attorneys may not divulge their clients' secrets, nor may others force them to.

What are 3 important qualities to be a lawyer? ›

Five Traits of Great Lawyers
  • Compassion: One of the Many Qualities of a Lawyer. Compassion is an emotional response whereby one perceives another's problem and authentically, genuinely wants to help resolve the problem. ...
  • Ability to Listen. ...
  • Assertiveness, Not Aggressiveness. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Perseverance.

What is the first duty of a lawyer? ›

The Kerala High Court has said that a lawyer's first responsibility is towards their clients, and then to the courts.

What is the most important task of a lawyer? ›

Lawyers typically do the following: Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, and in private legal matters. Communicate with their clients, colleagues, judges, and others involved in the case. Conduct research and analysis of legal problems.

Can lawyers keep a secret? ›

Lawyers are also under an equitable obligation to preserve confidentiality of information provided by their client. The duty of confidentiality arises from the fiduciary nature of the relationship between a lawyer and his or her client and will last as long as the information retains its confidential quality.

Can a lawyer refuse to defend a client? ›

Can Lawyers Refuse to Defend Someone? Lawyers can refuse to defend someone unless a court refuses to grant them leave to withdraw from the matter. Common reasons why a criminal lawyer would not defend someone are if there is a conflict of interest (eg.

Do lawyers ask if you did it? ›

Some lawyers will ask, some will not, and some don't want to know. Many people believe that if they “confess that they did it,” their attorney won't try to represent them anymore, or not give them a good defense. You should be honest with your criminal defense attorney.

What are the guidelines of code of conduct? ›

The code of conduct should have been approved by the management and as with all compliance guidelines, tone from the top should apply! The management level should exemplify the regulations and therefore show the employees that your organisation takes ethical business conduct seriously.

What are the 5 fundamental principles code of professional conduct? ›

The fundamental principles within the Code – integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behavior – establish the standard of behavior expected of a professional accountant (PA) and it reflects the profession's recognition of its public interest responsibility.

What are the six principles of professional conduct? ›

The principles are: Responsibilities Principle, The Public Interest Principle, The Integrity Principle, Objectivity and Independence Principle, Due Care Principle, and the Scope and Nature of Services Principle.

What is the scope of code of conduct? ›

A code of conduct is a set of values, rules, standards, and principles outlining what employers expect from staff within an organization.

What is code of conduct short answer? ›

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or an organization.

What are components of professional conduct? ›

However, there are some universal ethical principles that apply across all professions, including:
  • honesty.
  • trustworthiness.
  • loyalty.
  • respect for others.
  • adherence to the law.
  • doing good and avoiding harm to others.
  • accountability.

What are the 3 core values of professionalism? ›

The Core Values of Workplace Professionalism
  • Professional Dress. Dressing well shows your professionalism by increasing your self-confidence and creating memorable first impressions. ...
  • Use Proper Workplace Etiquette. ...
  • Be Punctual. ...
  • Be Organized. ...
  • Show Your Dedication to Your Job.
23 Mar 2022

What are the 8 norms of conduct? ›

The focus of discussion was on the 8 Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees which were a) Commitment to public interest, b) Professionalism, c) Justness and sincerity, d) Public Neutrality, e) Responsiveness to the public, f) Nationalism and patriotism, g) Commitment to democracy and h) Simple living.

What is Article 5 of the code of conduct? ›

Article V - When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

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