I’ll Take Legal Ethics for $400, Alex

You might consider yourself an ethical lawyer – and we hope you do – but how well do you really know our state’s ethics rules? Printed out on 8.5x11” sheets of paper, the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (including comments) run 122 pages. Few, if any, Texas attorneys will remember everything that’s tucked into the 50 sometimes-lengthy rules and their accompanying comments. So, maybe the real question is:  how much do you not know?

One way to find out is to test your knowledge using our Ethics Question of the Month, featured in the Texas Bar Journal. Every month since September 2018, TCLE provides a scenario that raises one or more ethical issues and provides several possible solutions. Read them regularly and you’ll stay ahead of many of your peers, ethics-wise.

Additionally, if you’ve missed any EQMs, you can find all of them here on our website. And a bonus: testing your knowledge this way can be counted toward the one hour of ethics self-study CLE credit you can claim each year.

Whenever you have questions, we’re here to help. Let the Texas Center for Legal Ethics serve as a reliable, robust resource to help you find the answers.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Q: What is the single best thing you can do to practice law ethically and avoid disciplinary trouble?

A: Be proactive – make it a habit to bring an ethics lens to everything you do in your law practice. Use that focus to frame your thinking as you make day-to-day decisions about not only your client work, but also your office operations. If you’re sloppy about how you run your practice, the potential for slip-ups snowballs.

Examining your entire law firm can seem daunting, but fortunately, the Texas Lawyer’s Insurance Exchange has created an excellent tool to help. The Legal Malpractice Self-Audit – available for free on the Texas Bar CLE website – is a 38-page document that includes a thorough checklist you can use to evaluate whether your firm is using the best management practices to avoid ethics and malpractice problems. With sections covering billing, conflicts of interest, and client relations – among other things – this is an invaluable solution for anyone serious about running an efficient, effective, and ethical law practice.

Of course, whenever you have questions, we’re here to help. Let the Texas Center for Legal Ethics serve as a reliable, robust resource to help you find the answers.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“The ingrained racial bias of the typical American courtroom has been well-noted.
Much less understood – with damages measured in different, unseen ways – 
are the biases within the legal profession itself.”

 -- Sharon Jones, attorney and diversity consultant

As the nation has turned an intense focus on issues of racial injustice, many Texas attorneys are considering what their ethical responsibilities are in relation to issues of race and equality. You may be surprised to learn that our state’s legal ethics rules actually do address issues of bias.

Did you know:

  • Rule 5.08 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct states that attorneys shall not “manifest by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation towards any person involved in that proceeding in any capacity.”
  • Canons 3(6) and 3(7) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct  states that judges shall not “manifest bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status,” and also requires all judges to prevent their court staff and attorneys from doing the same.

If you weren’t aware of these rules, you’re not alone. When you need to brush up on either the TDRPC or the Judicial Canons – or on any other ethics-related issues – our website is here to help. Whatever questions you might have, the Texas Center for Legal Ethics can serve as a reliable and robust resource to help you find the answers.

About This Blog

Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, a blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits is designed to have your back by providing useful information and support to you as you build your career, navigate the ethics rules, maintain high standards of professionalism, and try to avoid the common ethical pitfalls that can put you on the wrong side of the disciplinary system. We’re here to help.

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