Capital Guidelines And Ethical Duties: Mutually Reinforcing Responsibilities (PDF)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption by the American Bar Association of the first code of professional conduct in 1908. Now a century later, the American Bar Association can be justifiably proud of the fact that the current iteration of the rules is in the process of being adopted in virtually every jurisdiction, albeit with each jurisdiction sometimes insisting on quirky variations on the basic themes. But that aside, the current Model Rules of Professional Conduct have basically occupied the field and, as a result, lawyers take it as a given that their conduct is to be measured against the standards established in those rules and that failure to meet those standards can not only result in discipline, but also result in a claim for malpractice, fee forfeiture, sanctions, or other unfortunate results. Yet as harsh as any of those results might be, there is never a suggestion that the standards established by those rules are mere goals. Rather, there is universal recognition that the rules establish measurable levels of performance that lawyers in fact are expected to achieve, day in and day out, for clients large and small, criminal and civil, on Wall Street and on Main Street.