What Are The Ethics Of Lawyers?
First of all, what does the word "ethics" mean? It means employing the right conduct. It does not simply imply right or wrong. In a way, a person who is ethical makes sure that steps taken by him are in the best consequences and furthers the interests of those affected. A person always knows by instinct what is being done by him is ethical or not.
So, how is this connected to lawyers? Every person, especially people involved in any business or profession have to follow certain ethics. The ethical code that governs the conduct of people engaged in the practice of law is known as Legal Ethics. The legal system affects each and every person in our society. Lawyers are infact the backbone of our system since without them, the society would come to a standstill. These individuals hold positions of great importance since they have the power to influence the thinking of so many people.
All lawyers are expected to carry out some responsibilities. These responsibilities are independent of the nature of the case and the people involved. These include presenting arguments in courts for their clients, research and drafting of papers, counseling of clients, legal advice, carrying out the intent of the deceased etc. Now all lawyers carry out these responsibilities but if the ethics are not taken care of, there can be a severe miscarriage of justice. Thus,lawyers are obligated to follow strictly the code of ethics.
Ethics vary across jurisdiction but if seen from an abstract they include many points from the client's point of view, from the point of view of the judicial system and the society as a whole. In many countries, the ethical code is strictly followed and if violations are noticed, it can even lead to disbarment.
Considering America, how are these ethics implemented and governed?
The first and foremost focus is on the national level. This includes the American Bar Association, National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. Let's examine the the American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility, created by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1969 was a set of professional standards designed to establish the min degree of accepted legal ethics and professional responsibility that is necessary of the lawyers of the U.S. After the Watergate scandal of 1983, this was replaced by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct which consisted of simple rules, easy to read, understand and follow.
Secondly, all the states in the U.S have a regulatory body (called as State Bar Association) that does similar tasks as the ABA. If a lawyer gets a licence to practice law in a certain state, he has to follow the rules of ethics set by the state. All states have their own versions of rules which are adopted after consultation with the State Supreme court, which is the highest court in the state. Lawyers who fail to comply with the state's rule of ethics may even be disbarred from practicing law.
Nowadays, many colleges, universities and other schools have also started offering programs which prepare the next generation of legal assistants.
The conclusion is that if a lawyer feels that something done by him is unethical, there's quite a good chance that it actually is. Words can be changed and lines misinterpreted but education, common sense and respect for who he is will guide him make the right decisions