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Ethical Law Practice and Professional Responsibility Attorneys
An attorney’s work is increasingly governed by a particular set of laws and regulations, which starts with the rules of legal ethics. At times, lawyers need other lawyers to help them navigate and comply with these laws. Or, they may need help defending themselves if they fail to comply with these established laws and rules.
Over the last few decades, a growing number of attorneys have begun to apply their focus on the law governing lawyers. Since the boundaries of ethics and professional responsibility law are not always clearly fixed, these lawyers may be called upon to handle:
- Representing attorneys in disciplinary matters, such as when a lawyer is accused of violating an ethics rule and could be subject to sanctions, including suspension and disbarment.
- Providing advice and assistance to attorneys and law firms regarding whether their planned conduct complies with ethics rules and other laws.
- Representing applicants in proceedings for admission to the bar.
- Representing lawyers and law firms in court. They may need representation if they are accused of professional misconduct or ethics violations, such as motions to sanction attorney misconduct, motions to disqualify lawyers due to a conflict of interest, and proceedings that involve issues of confidentiality and attorney-client privilege.
- Working in-house to counsel law firms and provide the firm and its lawyers with ethics advice.
- Providing advice on loss prevention to attorneys and law firms.
- Helping attorneys and law firms deal with claims by clients and others.
- Assisting in situations that may lead to claims against attorneys and law firms and advising on how to avoid them.
Ethical law practice attorneys and professional responsibility lawyers also represent clients other than lawyers, such as individuals considering filing malpractice complaints, lawyer disciplinary complaints, or motions to disqualify lawyers due to conflicts of interest.
They may also serve in the role of expert witnesses when an attorney’s conduct is being questioned, whether in attorney disciplinary matters, legal malpractice matters, or disqualification motions. Ethical law practice and professional responsibility lawyers may be called upon by those who do business with lawyers for the same reasons. These matters may range from marketing companies to litigation funding companies to title insurance companies. These legal professionals advise such clients on how lawyers may appropriately and lawfully do business with them. Some ethics and professional responsibility attorneys also handle cases of legal malpractice for either attorneys accused of malpractice or those bringing such claims. Attorneys who practice in this area know a great deal about the law and rules governing lawyer conduct. They are well-versed and knowledgeable about the standard of care by which competent lawyers practice.
Lawyers sometimes make mistakes when representing clients. They are human beings, after all. Their mistakes may be small and easily fixable. Or, their mistakes may be serious. In such situations, an attorney can face disciplinary action for violating legal ethics, including losing their right to practice law. Attorneys who don’t adhere to their ethical obligations can and should face disciplinary action. Ethical law practice attorneys and professional responsibility lawyers hold these violators accountable.