Attorney Misconduct Behavior by an attorney that conflicts with established rules of professional conduct and is punishable by disciplinary measures. More than any other profession, the legal profession is self-governing. That is, it is largely regulated by lawyers and judges themselves rather than by the government or outside agencies. In particular, the American Bar Association (ABA), the largest professional association for attorneys, governs the Practice of Law through its establishment of rules of conduct. These rules are then adopted, sometimes in a modified form, by state courts and enforced by court-appointed disciplinary committees or bar associations. Attorneys found to be in violation of professional standards are guilty of misconduct and subject to disciplinary procedures. Disciplinary action by a state bar association or other authority may include private reprimands; public censure; suspension of the ability to practice law; and, most severe of all, disbarment—permanent denial of the ability to practice law in that jurisdiction. The state supreme court is the final arbiter in questions of professional conduct in most jurisdictions.
Since 1908, the ABA has been responsible for defining the standards of proper conduct for the legal profession. These standards, many of them established by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, are continuously evolving as society and the practice of law change over time. In 1969, the ABA passed its Model Code of Professional Responsibility, guidelines for proper legal conduct that were eventually adopted by all jurisdictions. The ABA modified the code by adopting the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 1983. The model rules have been used by 40 states to create official guidelines for professional conduct; 11 states or jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands, have continued to base their ethical codes on the earlier model code. California has developed its own rules of professional conduct. Whatever their basis, these codes or rules define the lawyer's proper role and relationship to the client. It is essential that lawyers understand the ethical codes under which they must operate. Failure to do so may result in not only disciplinary action by the relevant professional authorities but also Malpractice suits against the lawyer. A malpractice suit may result in loss of money or the ability to work with specific clients.
Rule 8.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct contains the following statements on attorney misconduct: It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, Fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;
(f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.
Besides issuing these general statements, the model rules set down many specific requirements for attorney conduct in different situations.
Because of an attorney's special relationship to the law, he or she is held to a special standard of conduct before the law, as the ABA asserts in its Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct: As members of the bar and officers of the court, lawyers are beneficiaries of the privilege of the practice of law and also are subject to higher duties and responsibilities than are non-lawyers. A lawyer's fiduciary duties arise from his status as a member of the legal profession and are expressed, at least in part, by the applicable rules of professional conduct.
The word fiduciary in this quotation comes from the Latin word fiducia, meaning "trust"; as a fiduciary, then, the attorney acts as the trusted representative of the client. Trust is thus a defining element of the legal profession, and without it, the practice of law could not exist. For that reason, the legal profession has created strict rules of conduct regarding the attorney's relationship with the client.
Attorney-Client Relationship The model rules set forth specific guidelines defining the attorney-client relationship. An attorney will be guilty of misconduct, for example, if she or he fails to provide competent representation to a client, to act with diligence and promptness regarding a client's legal concerns, or to keep a client informed of legal proceedings. Charging exorbitant fees or overbilling is also considered misconduct, as is counseling a client to commit a crime. For example, trial lawyer Harvey Myerson was suspended in 1992 from the practice of law by the New York Supreme Court after he was convicted of over-billing
Attorney-Client Sexual Relations The American Bar Association (ABA) has recognized sexual relations between attorneys and their clients as a significant ethical problem for the legal profession. The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility addressed this issue in 1992 by issuing a formal opinion (no. 92-364). Although the opinion acknowledged that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct do not specifically address the issue of attorney-client sex, it argued that an attorney's sexual relationship with a current client "may involve unfair exploitation of the lawyer's fiduciary position and presents a significant danger that the lawyer's ability to represent the client adequately may be impaired, and that as a consequence the lawyer may violate both the Model Rules and the Model Code." Becoming sexually intimate with a client, the opinion adds, undermines the "objective detachment" necessary for Legal Representation because "[t]he roles of lover and lawyer are potentially conflicting ones." In addition, the opinion argued, attorney-client sex introduces a clear conflict of interest into a case, and it may also compromise Attorney-Client Privilege, the principle that ensures the confidentiality of lawyer-client communication. Any secrets revealed to an attorney by a client outside of their legal relationship may not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Proponents of professional rules against attorney-client sexual contact argue that the legal profession should follow the example of other professions such as psychology and psychiatry, and create strict sanctions against sex with clients. Legal clients, these proponents say, are often vulnerable when dealing with attorneys, particularly in such areas of legal practice as Family Law. A lawyer who becomes sexually involved with a client in a Divorce proceeding can take advantage of the client under-going emotional trauma. That lawyer may hinder any attempts at reconciliation between a couple and complicate matters for any children involved. Sexual relationships between lawyer and client may also affect custody and child visitation decisions in the case. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in its Standards of Conduct in Family Law Litigation, specifically prohibits attorney-client sex: "An attorney should never have a sexual relationship with a client or opposing counsel during the time of the representation" (§ 2.16 ).
Some attorneys object to such rules, arguing that they interfere with their First Amendment rights to freedom of association. They bristle at the notion of state bar associations regulating the private affairs of consenting adults. Nevertheless, attorneys are increasingly being disciplined for becoming sexually involved with clients, and state bar associations are drafting clearer and more stringent rules against attorney-client sexual contact. Wisconsin's Supreme Court, for example, in 1987, revoked the license of an attorney in part because he had sex with a client (In re Hallows, 136 Wis. 2d 72, 401 N.W.2d 557). The attorney, the court argued, was "placing his interests above" those of his client. In 1990, the same court for the first time suspended the license of a criminal lawyer who had sex with a client (In re Ridgeway, 158 Wis. 2d 452, 462 N.W.2d 671). Oregon and Minnesota have adopted outright bans on attorney-client sexual contact. Rule 1.8(k) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, which became effective July 1, 1994, forbids attorney-client sexual contact during the conduct of a professional legal relationship. It allows exceptions to the rule only for relationships beginning before legal representation has commenced or after it has ended. In the case of clients that are organizations rather than individuals, an attorney may not have sexual contact with any member of the client organization directly overseeing the case.
Many types of attorney misconduct involve a conflict of interest on the part of the attorney. A conflict of interest arises when an attorney puts personal interests ahead of professional responsibilities to the client. The model rules specify the potential for conflict of interest in many different situations. Thus, for example, an attorney who by representing one client adversely affects another client has a conflict of interest and is guilty of misconduct. Conflict of interest rules also forbid an attorney to enter into a business transaction with a client unless the client is fully aware of how the transaction will affect his or her Legal Representation and agrees to the transaction in writing. Similarly, an attorney is guilty of misconduct if he or she makes a deal with the client for acquisition of the book, film, or media rights to the client's story. Providing a client with financial assistance also introduces a conflict of interest into the attorney-client relationship.
If an attorney is related to another attorney as parent, child, sibling, or spouse, that attorney may not represent a client in opposition to the related attorney except when given consent to do so by the client. This type of conflict of interest has become increasingly common as more women enter the legal profession and the number of marriages between attorneys grows. State bar associations, such as that of Michigan, have held that these guidelines also apply to lawyers who are living together or dating but are not married. The potential for conflict of interest when the opposing attorneys are married or romantically involved is clear. Imagine a woman representing a client in a personal injury lawsuit seeking millions of dollars worth of damages from a manufacturer, with her husband representing the manufacturer. As a couple, they have a monetary interest in gaining a large settlement from the manufacturer, thereby giving the husband an incentive to lose his case. Given this conflict of interest, the couple is obligated to reveal to their clients the fact that they are married. If the clients agree to go ahead with the case regardless of the conflict of interest, then the attorneys may decide to continue their representation.
Special examples of conflict of interest have arisen in cases involving indigent defendants who must use publicly provided defense attorneys. In many jurisdictions, it is considered misconduct for an attorney to refuse court appointment as a public service defender for a poor client, even when a spouse's legal associate or firm is involved on the opposing side of the case. Normally, for example, state bar associations allow a district attorney to prosecute persons defended by partners or associates of the district attorney's spouse as long as the client is notified of the situation; similarly, they will allow a district attorney's spouse to defend persons prosecuted by other members of the district attorney's staff. Nevertheless, in a 1992 case, Haley v. Boles, 824 S.W.2d 796, the Texas Court of Appeals found that a conflict of interest gave a court-appointed attorney grounds to refuse appointment as a public defender for a poor client. The prosecutor was married to the court-appointed counsel's law partner, creating a potential conflict of interest. According to the court's decision, a poor defendant who must rely on a public defender has fewer choices for legal representation than a defendant who can afford to employ her or his own attorney. Therefore, an attorney who has a conflict of interest must be able to refuse to represent a client as a public defender without being charged with misconduct, thereby ensuring that the client receives legal representation free of a conflict of interest.
Any breach of the trust by the attorney that underlies the relationship between that attorney and the client can be considered misconduct. For example, an attorney is often called upon to hold or transfer money for a client, and in this situation, the client places an extraordinary amount of trust in the lawyer. Any misuse of the client's money by the attorney—called misappropriation of client funds—constitutes a serious breach of trust and a gross example of misconduct. This offense includes stealing from the client, mingling the attorney's money with that of the client, and controlling client funds without authorization. The model rules require that funds given to a lawyer by a client be kept in an account separate from the lawyer's own account.
To encourage clients to inform their attorneys of all details relevant to a case, ethical codes also entrust attorneys with preserving the confidentiality of the information their clients give them; any failure to do so constitutes misconduct on the part of the attorney. The law protects attorney-client confidentiality with the principle of Attorney-Client Privilege, and under very few circumstances is it lawful to breach this privilege of confidentiality. The privilege may be revoked to prevent the client from "committing a criminal act that … is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm"(Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.6 1983), or to respond to civil or criminal proceedings made by the client against the attorney. Except for these rare cases, only the client may waive the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality.
Sexual contact between an attorney and a client is almost always considered a breach of conduct. Sexual contact represents a clear breach of attorney-client trust. It is also a clear conflict of interest because it can easily result in the attorney's placing his or her own needs above those of the client, and it makes it difficult for the attorney to argue the client's case dispassionately.
Other Types of Misconduct As the model rules indicate, an attorney may be charged with misconduct if she or he commits a criminal act. However, not all violations of the law may result in professional censure. According to the ABA, a lawyer is professionally responsible "only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice." These include violations involving "violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or interference with the administration of justice" (Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3). Nevertheless, violations of the law may seriously impair an attorney's professional standing.
Ethical rules also govern the conduct of attorneys before courts. Thus, an attorney is guilty of misconduct toward the court if he or she brings a frivolous, or unnecessary, proceeding to court; makes false statements to the court; offers false evidence; or unlawfully obstructs another party's access to evidence. It is also considered misconduct if an attorney attempts to influence a judge or juror by illegal means, such as Bribery or intimidation, or states personal opinions regarding the justness of a cause or the credibility of a witness. Special rules govern trial publicity as well. These forbid an attorney to make statements outside of court that will influence a court proceeding. For example, an attorney may not make statements related to the character, credibility, guilt, or innocence of a suspect or witness in a court proceeding. Attorneys are forbidden to communicate directly or indirectly with a party represented by another lawyer in the same matter, unless they receive permission from the other attorney. This law is designed to protect laypersons involved in legal proceedings from possibly hurting their cases by speaking with the opposing lawyer.
Federal and state laws also define attorney misconduct and empower judges to discipline wayward attorneys. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 U.S.C.A.), for example, requires sanctions for lawyers and clients who file frivolous or abusive claims in court. In a 1989 case, Nasco, Inc. v. Calcasieu Television & Radio, 124 F.R.D. 120 (W.D. La.), a federal district judge suspended two lawyers and disbarred another for "illegal and fraudulent schemes and conspiracies" designed to slow a case in court for the benefit of their client.
Beginning in the late 1980s, attorneys have been required to report the misconduct of other lawyers, with failure to do so considered to be misconduct in itself and resulting in serious disciplinary measures. A 1989 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, In re Himmel, 125 Ill. 2d 531, 533 N.E.2d 790, found that attorneys have a duty to report other lawyers' misconduct even when a client has instructed them not to do so. The Illinois Supreme Court suspended James H. Himmel from the practice of law for one year after he failed to report a misappropriation of client funds by another lawyer, a violation of rule 1-103(a) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility. Himmel's failure to report, the court found, had allowed the offending attorney to bilk other clients as well. The attorney guilty of misappropriating funds was disbarred.
Lawyers have also been found guilty of misconduct with regard to the advertising of their services. It is legal and ethical for attorneys to advertise, but if that advertising is false, deceptive, or misleading, makes unsubstantiated comparisons to another lawyer's services, or proposes means contrary to rules of professional conduct, the attorney can be charged with misconduct. For example, an attorney was disbarred in Maryland for publishing misleading advertisements soliciting customers for "quickie" foreign divorces and misrepresenting his competence and knowledge of the law (Attorney Grievance Committee v. McCloskey, 306 Md. 677, 511 A.2d 56 ).
Conflict of InterestA term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary.
In certain relationships, individuals or the general public place their trust and confidence in someone to act in their best interests. When an individual has the responsibility to represent another person—whether as administrator, attorney, executor, government official, or trustee—a clash between professional obligations and personal interests arises if the individual tries to perform that duty while at the same time trying to achieve personal gain. The appearance of a conflict of interest is present if there is a potential for the personal interests of an individual to clash with fiduciary duties, such as when a client has his or her attorney commence an action against a company in which the attorney is the majority stockholder.
Incompatibility of professional duties and personal interests has led Congress and many state legislatures to enact statutes defining conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest and specifying the sanctions for violations. A member of a profession who has been involved in a conflict of interest might be subject to disciplinary proceedings before the body that granted permission to practice that profession.
conflict of interest n. a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual's personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official's personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business. An attorney, an accountant, a business adviser or realtor cannot represent two parties in a dispute and must avoid even the appearance of conflict. He/she may not join with a client in business without making full disclosure of his/her potential conflicts, he/she must avoid commingling funds with the client, and never, never take a position adverse to the customer.
Code of Professional Responsibility n. a set of rules governing the ethical conduct of attorneys in the practice of the law. It covers such topics as conflicts of interest, honesty with clients, confidentiality, and conduct toward other attorneys and the courts. First developed and pushed by the American Bar Association the code has been adopted by most states.
Ethics, Legal The branch of philosophy that defines what is good for the individual and for society and establishes the nature of obligations, or duties, that people owe themselves and one another. In modern society, ethics define how individuals, professionals, and corporations choose to interact with one another.
The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos, which means "character," and from the Latin word mores, which means "customs." Aristotle was one of the first great philosophers to study ethics. To him, ethics was more than a moral, religious, or legal concept. He believed that the most important element in ethical behavior is knowledge that actions are accomplished for the betterment of the common good. He asked whether actions performed by individuals or groups are good both for an individual or a group and for society. To determine what is ethically good for the individual and for society, Aristotle said, it is necessary to possess three virtues of practical wisdom: temperance, courage, and justice.
The need to control, regulate, and legislate ethical conduct at the individual, corporate, and government levels has ancient roots. For example, one of the earliest law codes developed, the Code of Hammurabi, made Bribery a crime in Babylon during the eighteenth century b.c. Most societies share certain features in their ethical codes, such as forbidding murder, bodily injury, and attacks on personal honor and reputation. In modern societies, the systems of law and public justice are closely related to ethics in that they determine and enforce definite rights and duties. They also attempt to repress and punish deviations from these standards.
Laws can be neutral on ethical issues, or they can be used to endorse ethics. The prologue to the U.S. Constitution states that ensuring domestic tranquility is an objective of government, which is an ethically neutral statement. Civil Rights laws, on the other hand, promote an ethical as well as legal commitment. Often laws and the courts are required to resolve strong ethical dilemmas in society, as in the controversial issues of Abortion (roe v. wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147), Affirmative Action (university of california v. bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S. Ct. 2733, 57 L. Ed. 2d 750), and Segregation (brown v. board of education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873).
Laws also permit many actions that will not bear ethical scrutiny. In other words, what the law permits or requires is not necessarily what is ethically right. For instance, laws allow disloyalty toward friends, the breaking of promises that do not have the stature of legal contracts, and a variety of deceptions. Laws sometimes require gross immoralities, as did the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required citizens to return runaway slaves to their masters, and the U.S. Supreme Court's dred scott decision, which in 1857 declared that slaves were not citizens but property (60 U.S. 393, 19 How. 393, 15 L. Ed. 691).
Local, state, and federal regulatory acts influence the conduct of some professions. Business executives are faced with two types of ethical issues in conducting their day-to-day affairs, and the law holds them accountable for their actions in these areas. Micromanagement issues include conflicts of interest, employee rights, fair performance appraisals, Sexual Harassment, proprietary information, discrimination, and accepting or offering gifts. Macromanagement issues include corporate social responsibility, Product Liability, environmental ethics, Comparable Worth, layoffs and downsizings, employee screening tests, employee rights to privacy in the workplace, and corporate accountability.
Although the law does influence the conduct of some professions, many ethical issues cannot be settled by the courts. The ethics of a particular act is many times determined independently of the legality of the conduct. In fact, decisive answers cannot always be given for many ethical issues because there are no enforceable standards or reliable theories for resolving ethical conflicts.
The response of many professions to the challenging and demanding problem of institutionalizing business ethics is to implement codes of ethics, develop statements of corporate goals, sponsor training and educational programs in ethics, install internal judiciary bodies that hear cases of improprieties, and create telephone hot lines through which employees can anonymously report possible ethical violations. A code of ethics provides members of a profession with standards of behavior and principles to be observed regarding their moral and professional obligations toward one another, their clients, and society in general. The primary function of a code of ethics is to provide guidance to employers and employees in ethical dilemmas, especially those that are particularly ambiguous.
A code of ethics is often developed by a professional society within a particular profession. The higher the degree of professionalism required of society members, the stronger and, therefore, more enforceable the code. For instance, in medicine, the behavior required is more specific and the consequences are more stringent in the code of ethics for physicians than in the code of ethics for nurses. In addition, professions that require licensure from a state-authorized board, which guarantees both the competency and the moral efficacy of its members, place a duty on the licensed professional to help prevent Unauthorized Practice by unlicensed providers as a means of protecting the public. Decisions in ethical situations can be made more easily if the code is specific, gives detailed directions on what actions should or should not be taken, and spells out explicit penalties for unethical behavior. Therefore, some large and influential professional associations have developed highly detailed and enforceable codes for their membership. The American Medical Association's (AMA's) Principles of Medical Ethics has seven provisions, supplemented by numerous interpretive opinions of a judicial council. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association (ABA) contains eight sections, construed according to 138 ethical considerations and implemented by a comparable number of parallel disciplinary rules. The Rules of Conduct of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has six major principles, each with numerous specifications. The American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct contains six principles, with several provisions under each.
Other professions with codes of responsibility include dentistry, social work, education, government service, engineering, journalism, real estate, advertising, architecture, banking, insurance, and human resources management. However, because some of these professions are not licensed, anyone can claim their title and perform their function—thus making it difficult to find legal recourse to claims of unethical conduct.
All professional codes can be considered quasi-public because of the effect they may have on legal judgments during litigation. Many states adopt accrediting associations' codes of ethics, thereby establishing those standards as public codifications. Failure to comply with a code can, in some professions, result in expulsion from the profession. The AMA's Principles of Medical Ethics, for example, are not laws per se, but the maximum penalty for violation of the principles is expulsion from the AMA. In addition, the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct provide evidence of professional standards of loyalty and care, and they become directly enforceable public law when they or their variants are adopted as binding upon lawyers admitted to practice within a state.
The most common violations of ethics codes that are brought before state professional associations and the legal system are breach of contract, including that resulting from incompetent behavior or decisions or from failure to exercise Good Faith; Fraud, or an intent to deceive; and professional Malpractice, or Negligence, which include incompetence and the performance of unnecessary services.
Since the legal profession is more self-regulating (i.e., regulated by attorneys and judges themselves rather than by government or outside agencies) than most professions, every state supreme court or legislature has a committee authorized to enforce the state rules of professional legal conduct. The state conduct committees make factual determinations on whether to privately reprimand a lawyer, publicly censure him or her, suspend the attorney's license to practice, or permanently revoke the license (i.e., disbar the attorney, or permanently disqualify the attorney from practicing law in the state).
Specific procedures on discipline in the legal profession vary from state to state, but every state allows for court review of the conduct committee's recommendations. If a license is revoked, the lawyer may petition the committee for readmission to the bar after a period of time specified by the state rules. Not every violation results in disbarment. This drastic measure is most commonly reserved for theft or misuse of client funds.
Besides laws based on professional bar association codes of ethics, separate federal and state laws define Attorney Misconduct and empower judges to discipline unethical conduct by attorneys. For example, rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 U.S.C.A.) requires sanctions for lawyers and clients who file frivolous or abusive claims in court.
Courts may restrict lawyers in some cases from making public statements that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment.A U.S. court of appeals held in the case In re Morrissey, 168 F.3d 134 (4th Cir. 1999) that lawyers, under certain circumstances, may be constitutionally prohibited from making pre-trial statements to the press in criminal cases if there is a "reasonable likelihood" that those statements would interfere with a fair trial. The appeals court continued a line of cases holding that similar restrictions upon a lawyer's speech are constitutional in the appropriate circumstances.
The attorney in Morrissey was convicted of criminal Contempt for his out-of-court public statement, which violated a local court rule prohibiting certain statements during potential or imminent criminal litigation. Other circuit courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court have reached similar results when reviewing similar restrictions, but some, such as the Seventh Circuit in Chicago Council of Lawyers v. Bauer, 522 F.2d 242 (7th Cir. 1975), have reached opposite results. Accordingly, the permissible bounds for the restriction of a lawyer's speech remain somewhat vague.
Although every state has adopted either the ABA's Model Rules or one of its predecessors, the interpretation of each state's law regarding lawyer conduct is left to the courts and ethics commissions of the various states. Like other areas of laws, these interpretations vary from state to state. In 1999, the American Law Institute (ALI) approved the Restatement of Law Governing Lawyers, which was designed as a Codification of the rules derived from decisions of state courts, ethics commissions, and similar agencies. The Restatement is not binding upon any court, but like other Restatements, such as those governing contracts and property, it is a highly persuasive body of work.
The Restatement includes provisions regarding the regulation of the legal profession, the relationship between lawyer and client, civil liability of lawyers, treatment of confidential client information, representation of clients, and conflicts of interest. Development of the Restatement's provisions took several years, and the ALI considered a number of drafts before approving the final draft in 1999. State courts have already begun to interpret its provisions.
For example, in Levine v. Bayne, Snell & Krause, Ltd., 40 S.W.2d 92 (Tex. 2001), the Texas Supreme Court looked to the Restatement to determine whether an attorney's fee under a contract that provided for a Contingent Fee arrangement should be offset by a counterclaim against the client. The Restatement resolved the dispute, and the Texas Supreme Court held that the law firm in the case should only recover a percentage of the amount recovered by the client after the counterclaim. Similarly, other state courts have applied the Restatement to resolve disputes regarding, for instance, Attorney-Client Privilege.
Judges must comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct, which was formulated by the ABA in 1972. This code is not considered law; however, federal and state governments have adopted it, and its violations are used as the basis for punitive action against judges. Any person may lodge a complaint of misconduct against a judge with the appropriate Judicial Review council. Punitive actions include public or private reprimand and suspension from office.
New fields of ethics, such as bioethics, engineering ethics, and environmental ethics, have arisen with the rapid social change and technological developments of modern society. New areas of concern have also opened up, not just for the professions involved but for society as well. For instance, physicians, who have taken the Hippocratic Oath to save life, cure disease, and alleviate suffering, are now faced with whether to use medical devices that can prolong life at the cost of increasing suffering or to follow patients' requests to be allowed to die without extraordinary lifesaving precautions or to be provided with medications or devices that will end life. As such professions grapple with expanding their codes of responsibility to keep up with technological advances and societal pressures for stricter business ethics, changes in laws governing business ethics are bound to change too. Since societal ethics has evolved through the law, it mirrors the ethical norms agreed on by the majority.
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