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Ethics From Inside The Legal Profession

Understanding the ethical rules of behavior for lawyers can help you decide when to seek legal help and how to navigate your relationship with your attorney. People are often confused about what they need in a lawyer. And people often come to my office to replace an attorney who they are currently dissatisfied for many reasons, mostly stemming from a disconnect between the client's objectives and the attorney's actions. The disconnect is invariably connected to the rules of ethical behavior.

Aside from the actual lawyer-client relationship is the public impression of how lawyers behave and abuse their power. Because the most outrageous behavior gets the most attention, lawyers can seem to be the most misbehaved professional group ever. But it all depends on the context. A very well respected attorney in my community once asked the judge for permission to slap her client in the middle of a trial ("Just one very hard slap on the side of the face."). That sounds outrageous, right? But she did that to make a point; while the judge fervently denied her request, her point was successfully made. In a movie, the attorney would have actually slapped the client without any warning to anyone, and that would have seemed acceptable to the audience who at some point would have been made aware of the purpose of the slapping.

The practice of law involves life-altering events that can threaten one's freedom, parenting rights, government intrusion, and financial security. The stakes are high and emotions run high. Attorneys and clients are put to the task of behaving their best under the most stressful of circumstances. Any attorney worth their salt will lose sleep over the weight of responsibility carried for their clients. Any client worth their salt will be as open and honest with their lawyer as they expect their lawyer to be with them.

In the following blogs, I will address particular ethical rules of behavior for lawyers and how they apply to the lawyer-client relationship in real practice. I will explain how attorneys must balance following the rules with representing their client's interests. I will try to consider this topic from the perspective of my clients