It is hard for a lay person to understand what it means to be professional and how important it is to maintain high ethical standards in the legal profession. Ask a lawyer, how they remain professional while representing their client and you will receive an answer that begins with “I try”. This statement exemplifies many of the principles that govern how lawyers practice their profession, ethics first.
Legal professionals have a responsibility to take personal responsibility for their legal documents. If the lawyer takes a personal responsibility for the content of the legal documents the result can be disastrous. Take the recent example of Louisiana suiting the family of a deceased car crash victim. The court found that the insurance company of the driver of the car that hit the car was not responsible for the car accident. The insurance company settled a lawsuit and paid out money to the victims of the accident for injuries and loss of income.
Unfortunately this same lawyer committed ethical breaches in his representation of another motorist in a personal injury case. As a result the law firm settled the case without admitting guilt and without taking responsibility for the ethical failures. Their apology letter to the victims stated that their lawyer had made a mistake and should have consulted more with the victim before submitting the settlement offer. The apology letter did not take responsibility for the unethical conduct displayed in the legal documents. How could this legal professional to get away with such ethical violations?
Professionalism is more than just words. Lawyers need to demonstrate behavior that reflects a sense of integrity and responsibility. In order to do so a lawyer must commit to an ethical code of conduct. When a lawyer fails to exhibit these behaviors, it is very easy to see where the ethical code has been violated. For example, if a lawyer fails to refer the client to the appropriate legal practitioner for the legal issue at hand.
How do you know which of your attorneys are doing what they claim they will? Do you trust your attorney to keep your best interest in mind? In most cases, you would not. Therefore, if your attorney fails to refer you to the appropriate lawyer you are entitled to refer the matter to another attorney that does.
In addition to these unethical behaviors legal professionals have also demonstrated their inability to adhere to the legal ethical code. A perfect example of this is when a family is pursuing a litigation action against a business over a malpractice claim. If the litigation lawyer of the opposing party does not adhere to the ethical standard he or she will likely be disciplined by the courts for their unethical behaviors. It is easy to see how some lawyers become careless and commit unethical behaviors because they are so busy dealing with the legal aspects of their clients’ cases.
The bottom line is that your legal representation and your attorney must be committed to following the ethical standards that are set forth in the ethical code. This will ensure that you have a positive experience while engaging in all of your legal activities. It will also help to maintain your trust with your legal provider. Your clients will appreciate the dedication to upholding the highest standards possible.