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«Rules of Professional Conduct, the Creed of Professionalism and A Lawyer’s Aspirational ideals Resource 2 This resource is meant to facilitate a ...»

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Rules of Professional Conduct, the Creed of Professionalism and

A Lawyer’s Aspirational ideals

Resource 2

This resource is meant to facilitate a meaningful discussion about the Rule of Professional Conduct,

A Creed of Professionalism of the New Mexico Bench and Bar, and a Lawyer’s Aspirational Ideals

with suggestions about the practical application of the concepts contained in these documents.

Review the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, found at New Mexico Compilation:

• http://www.conwaygreene.com/nmsu/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&2.0 OR http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/nm/code/ Review and discuss the Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct. What are the • functions of an attorney? (See attached).

Reflect together on what it means to be an attorney and how The Creed of Professionalism • shapes that meaning.

Identify different roles that an attorney must play. Discuss how The Creed of • Professionalism supports an attorney’s actions in each of those roles.

Review and discuss in depth at least two of the following rules and how each subject is • treated in the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct and in The Creed of Professionalism for the New Mexico Bench and Bar.

Conflict of interest with current clients • Candor towards the tribunal • Communications with person represented by counsel • Dealing with the unrepresented person • Discuss with the new lawyer the differences between the New Mexico Rules of Professional • Conduct and The Creed of Professionalism for the New Mexico Bench and Bar.

Give the new lawyer examples of how you, as an experienced attorney, incorporate the • concepts of the creed into your everyday law practice.

Discuss the attached “Ethics Checklists for Solo and Small Firm Practice” and Adler, M. & • Dimmerman, H. “What We Never Learned in Law School.” GP/Solo Magazine Oct./Nov.


Discuss the attached “Mistakes We’ve Made that We Hope You Can Avoid” summary of •

common mistakes. To view the 2015 CLE covering this topic, go to:

Resource 2 2016 The Creed of Professionalism of the New Mexico Bench and Bar Lawyer’s Preamble As a lawyer, I strive to make our system of justice work fairly and efficiently. In order to carry out that responsibility, I will comply with the letter and spirit of the disciplinary standards applicable to all lawyers, and I will also conduct myself in accordance with the following Creed of Professionalism when dealing with my client, opposing parties, their counsel, the courts and any other person involved in the legal system, including the general public.

A. In all matters: “My Word is My Bond.”

B. With respect to my clients:

• I will be loyal and committed to my client’s cause, and I will provide my client with objective and independent advice.

I will work to achieve lawful objectives in all other matters, as expeditiously • and economically as possible.

In appropriate cases, I will counsel my client regarding options for mediation, • arbitration and other alternative methods of resolving disputes.

I will advise my client against pursuing matters that have no merit.

• I will advise my client against tactics that will delay resolution or which harass or • drain the financial resources of the opposing party.

I will advise my client that civility and courtesy are not weaknesses.

• I will counsel my client that initiating or engaging in settlement discussions is • consistent with zealous and effective representation.

I will keep my client informed about the progress of the work for which I have • been engaged or retained, including the costs and fees.

I will charge only a reasonable attorney’s fee for services rendered.

• I will be courteous to and considerate of my client at all times.

C. With respect to opposing parties and their counsel:

I will be courteous and civil, both in oral and in written communications.

• I will not make improper statements of fact or of law.

• I will agree to reasonable requests for extensions of time or waivers of formalities when • legitimate interests of my client will not be adversely affected.

I will consult with opposing counsel before scheduling depositions and meetings or before • rescheduling court hearings.

I will cooperate with opposing counsel’s requests for scheduling changes.

• I will not use litigation, delay tactics, or other courses of conduct to harass the opposing • party or their counsel.

Resource 2 2016 I will refrain from excessive and abusive discovery, and I will comply with reasonable • discovery requests.

In depositions, negotiations and other proceedings, I will conduct myself with dignity, • avoiding groundless objections and other actions that are disrupting and disrespectful.

I will not serve motion and pleadings that will unfairly limit the other party’s opportunity to • respond.

In the preparations of documents and in negotiations, I will concentrate on substance and • content.

I will clearly identify, for other counsel or parties, all changes that I have • made in all documents.

D. With respect to the courts and other tribunals:

I will be a vigorous and zealous advocate on behalf of my client, but I will • remember that excessive zeal may be detrimental to my client's interests or the proper functioning of our justice system.

I will communicate with opposing counsel in an effort to avoid litigation or to • resolve litigation.

I will voluntarily withdraw claims or defenses when they are superfluous or do not have • merit.

I will refrain from filing frivolous motions.

• I will voluntarily exchange information and work on a plan for discovery as early as • possible.

I will attempt to resolve, by agreement, my objections to matters contained in my • opponent's pleadings and discovery requests.

When hearings or depositions are cancelled, I will notify opposing counsel, • necessary parties, and the court (or other tribunal) as early as possible.

Before dates for hearings or trials are set, or immediately after dates have been set, I • will verify the availability of participants and I will also notify the court (or other tribunal) and opposing counsel of any problems.

In civil matters I will stipulate to facts when there is no genuine dispute.

• I will be punctual for court hearings, conferences and depositions.

• I will be respectful toward and candid with the court.

• I will avoid the appearance of impropriety at all times.

E. With respect to the public and to other persons involved in the legal system:

I will be mindful of my commitment to the public good.

• I will keep current in my practice areas and when necessary, will associate with or refer my • client to more knowledgeable or experienced counsel.

I will willingly participate in the disciplinary process.

–  –  –

A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client’s legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealings with others. As an evaluator, a lawyer acts by examining a client’s legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.

In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. Some of these rules apply directly to lawyers who are or have served as third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules, 16-112 and 16-204 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, there are rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a lawyer who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 16-804 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.

As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law, and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority.

A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes person who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance.

Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to

–  –  –

Many of a lawyer’s professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession’s ideas of public service.

A lawyer’s responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done.

So, also a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.

In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer’s responsibilities to clients, to the legal system, and to the lawyer’s own interest in remaining an ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these rules, however, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the rules. These principals include the lawyer’s obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client’s legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.

The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the profession is vested largely in the courts.

To the extent that lawyers meet their obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession’s independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.

The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of selfgovernment. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar.

Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer

–  –  –

Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.

–  –  –

The following information is intended to provide information for solo and small firm practitioners to help avoid the pitfalls that can occur in a busy law practice.

 The New Mexico Advisory Ethics Opinions Summaries from 1983 to present are all available

under Ethics Opinions at:

http://www.nmbar.org/Nmstatebar/About_Us/Ethics_Advisory/Ethics_Advisory.aspx  To obtain an ethics advisory opinion concerning a specific concern, contact the State bar of

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