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.
Some attorneys object to such rules, arguing that they interfere with their First Amendment rights to . 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.
They bristle at the notion of state bar associations regulating the private affairs of consenting adults. "Sex Behind the Bar: Should Attorney-Client Sexual Relations be Prohibited? 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.
A malpractice suit may result in loss of money or the ability to work with specific clients.
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.Sexual relationships between lawyer and client may also affect custody and child visitation decisions in the case. 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. 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 ). Providing a client with financial assistance also introduces a conflict of interest into the attorney-client relationship. The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility addressed this issue in 1992 by issuing a formal opinion (no. 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. Many types of attorney misconduct involve a conflict of interest on the part of the attorney.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.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.