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Ethics Law Within the legal profession, the term legal ethics refers to a code of conduct which oversees proper professional…
Many times all that is discussed is the lawyer-client relationship as it relates to confidentiality. However, attorney-attorney confidentiality is just as important. A NJ attorney has the ethical duty of not disclosing information that is related to the representation of his client. Confidentiality is in effect at all times for the attorney, not just when they are facing legal demands for client information.
It is imperative in any professional position that clear communication be established, but even more so for the attorney. If a NJ Attorney desires to have a successful practice good communication skills are essential. They must be able to effectively communicate on many levels with associates, other legal professionals, vendors, staff, partners and of course with their clientele. When a lawyer can communicate effectively they will demonstrate more confidence which can lead to increased clientele. In order to build a rapport between the client and lawyer good communication is essential. Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct pertains to communication which occurs between the client and the lawyer.
The Rules of Professional Conduct cover many different topics as they pertain to lawyers and how they handle their profession. Section 1.1 deals with the lawyer’s competency. The two sections contained under competency explain that lawyers must handle legal matters ethically; they cannot neglect a matter which has been entrusted to them in any way that constitutes gross negligence. Lawyers must be competent in their handling of legal matters in general such that they do not show evidence of patterns of neglect.
Every New Jersey attorney is required to handle all their professional legal matters according to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The RPC outlines how lawyers are to conduct themselves in an ethical manner. Following these rules of conduct can help protect clients from lawyer’s unethical practices but they are also in place to provide protection for lawyers. Rule 7.3 offers the guidelines by which lawyers should handle personal contact with their clients or prospective clients. Lawyers must be allowed to initiate contact with clients but only for obtaining employment, however, there are certain requirements which must be met. An attorney cannot accept a client if they know that the individual is trying to obtain the lawyer’s services in a way that is prohibited by RPC Rule 7.3.
New Jersey has established the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct deals with the termination of professional services. It is possible for a NJ attorney to withdraw from any case when a client requests that the attorney engage in behavior that he fundamentally disagrees with. RPC Rule 1.16 deals with the specifics of how and when a NJ attorney can withdraw from representation.
Every NJ attorney is compelled to be responsible to maintain the integrity of the legal profession. Every lawyer is bound by a set of legal ethics and they must adhere to them in order to protect the integrity of the profession. Many people have often asked what an attorney should do if they are aware of unethical actions committed on the part of another attorney or legal professional. Are they bound by the law to report these types of actions, or are they exempt? Whenever an attorney becomes aware of unethical actions committed by another legal professional they are required to report the professional misconduct to the ethics committee in New Jersey. Every NJ attorney is required to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) including Rule 8.3 which states that a lawyer must report unethical behaviors.
The legal profession is a complex world and a NJ attorney must function in several capacities. He is not just a representative for his clients; he is also an officer of the legal system as well as a public citizen which carries the specific responsibility of protecting and preserving justice. The Rules of Professional Conduct are set into place to help a lawyer define his actions in each of these different roles. The lawyer must function as a representative for clientele but also must remember that they are an officer serving the legal system. As an acting public citizen, the lawyer is constantly seeking to improve the law and administer justice while continuing to provide quality service which is required of the legal profession. The Rules of Professional Conduct were developed in order to help define the legal responsibilities of the attorney and to create a consistent code of legal ethics.
The NJ attorney is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct as they are outlined to provide protection for both the client and the legal professional. Lawyers must conduct all of their business in an ethical and honest way. Some of the rules contain wording which states either “shall” or “shall not”; while other portions use the kinder terms, “may” or “may not.” The rules which state a lawyer “may” or “may not” participate in a specific action are largely left up to the attorney’s professional and personal discretion. However, those Rules of Professional Conduct which state specifically that a lawyer “shall” or “shall not” participate in a specified action or activity can bear repercussions for the lawyer if they are not followed.