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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.Trust is thus a defining element of the legal profession, and without it, the practice of law could not exist.
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.
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.
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.
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. A conflict of interest arises when an attorney puts personal interests ahead of professional responsibilities to the client.
Legal clients, these proponents say, are often vulnerable when dealing with attorneys, particularly in such areas of legal practice as Family Law. The model rules specify the potential for conflict of interest in many different situations.
The model rules have been used by 40 states to create official guidelines for professional conduct; 11 states or jurisdictions, including Washington, D.