Monday, February 01, 2010


read if you dare


At 6:02 AM, February 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those ethics regarding death may be important, but the greater need seems more basic.

Should a lawyer protect another friend/lawyer that commits fraud, and drop a client that exposes that wire and mail fraud?

Should a lawyer that lets important dates come and go while failing to represent a client, be required to reveal a conflict of interest, instead of just refusing to return calls?

Should a lawyer lie to his client and double bill him while coordinating with the "adversary" lawyer, against his client's interests.

I'm thinking of four different lawyers and could go on, but the bigger problem is much more base ... Lawyers that misrepresent a client for a nefarious motive, or commit frauds themselves in defending co-conspirators.

We live in a very corrupt state ... and lawyers at every level work hard to paper over overt criminal activity, as I see it.

"What can we get away with" is the motto, somewhat the opposite of "First, do no harm".

Would the good old boy system here find a way to protect that hypothetical life, the same way (I believe) they use the good old boy system to fleece clients or trusts or estates?

I think many would only do it if it either did not cost them money, or saved them face.

Humans can be ruthless, and if we don't rein in white collar crime, good people may revert to wild west justice as a last resort. But the article indicates the author at least, believes life is worth more than a buck.

At 7:09 AM, February 02, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Your examples are not difficult questions.

The one I pose is different because the moral imperative may be different from the legal, ethical answer.

If it's not obvious, my purpose in setting up this thread was to discuss the competing values of the privilege versus the societal good that can come from disclosure. While I welcome well crafted comments, my purpose wasn't to set up a "My Lawyer Did This To Me." board.



At 11:46 AM, February 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But no one responded ...

To me, her stance is clearly the ethical one, and she wonders why it is even a question.

I'm not only saying "my lawyer(s) did this" ... I'm saying my examples are prevalent, and the unwillingness to deal with even the grossest abuses indicates the more rare example of how it should be are only trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

For most people, the system is broken ... for the connected, they can pretend they care about ethics. Maybe you're in the middle somewhere ... I won't suggest cognitive dissonance.

Anyway .. it is an open blog, so since no one responded, I figured I'd offer a view from outside lawyer land. The lawyers I was friends with suggested after the crap they learned of in law school, they were ready to go "get theirs" ... ethics becomes pretty low on the totem pole.

At 1:20 PM, February 02, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...


I didn't take what you said as a personal scream sheet. They were just easy paradigms where there were no divergences between morality, personal ethics and legal ethics.

I think you paint with too broad a brush. In most real communities there is no disconnect between "getting yours" and being ethical. This a false choice.

The whole "old boy network" charge is like calling somebody a racist, generic and just too easy.

You're right, nobody commented. The dichotomy between one positive value (keeping a client's confidences) and another (preventing harm) wasn't interesting enough. Or perhaps clicking on the link was too tedious. I appreciate your reading, understanding and responding.


At 2:30 PM, February 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me the choices posed in the article weren't equally weighted enough to be considered a true intersting dilemma. If it's the death of someone versus your professional credibility and your professional ethical responsibility to act in the interests of your client I don't see how you can possibly vote against telling the dying guy whats going on. The article references Model 1.6 in regards to when it is allowable to break attorney-client, which would seem applicable to the situations outlined in the article. Also Model 9.6 speaks to how laywers are to be dedicated to public service and to inspire the confidence and respect of not only the client, but also the public. How much respect and confidence would you inspire by letting someone die?

At 4:03 PM, February 02, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...

That's the kind of discussion I was looking for.

Measuring the imperatives is a useful start.


At 4:56 PM, February 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In most real communities there is no disconnect between "getting yours" and being ethical. This a false choice.

I disagree with that ... "they" break ethics and morals. The "getting yours" my terminology refers to breaks both, or at least ignores both.

She (and he) said

"Nobody would question that it would be immoral -- there's simply no other word for it -- for someone to be aware that a human being is suffering from reasonably certain death and do nothing about it. Morality, under any view of it, would compel action. So too would medical ethics. Why not legal ethics? We are at a loss for a good answer."

and you said ...
"The one I pose is different because the moral imperative may be different from the legal, ethical answer."

I don't see them saying there is some moral/ethical conundrum here ... I think they are saying there is no good reason their hypothetical should not compel action by legal ethics, as it would with medical ethics.

And my feelings are that the "do no harm" ethics should reach further into the legal community than just matters of life and death.

But I'm bad about skipping many steps in stating exactly what I'm thinking, because I'm assuming everyone thinks like me, I guess. :)


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