Washington Law Review


The failure of the Bar to regulate effectively the ethical conduct of its members is not solely the failure of law school teaching methodology. A much more serious deficiency-and one far more difficult to resolve—concerns the way lawyers perceive and attempt to enforce professional responsibility. Instead of providing an analytical framework which the individual lawyer can employ in considering problems arising in practice, the legal profession has chosen a series of ambiguous and only tangentially related rules which are often contradictory or misleading. Because these situation-oriented rules do not clearly encompass even a majority of the myriad factors potentially relevant in resolving a particular ethical dilemma, the Bar has found itself unable to agree upon the proper course of conduct in any but the most obvious cases, making it virtually impossible to control the actions of attorneys acting in good faith. The existing situation-oriented rules are unworkable and unenforceable. Effective instruction in and enforcement of professional responsibility requires a system model of legal ethics. The second part of this article describes system-oriented models and how such models can aid practicing lawyers and law students in resolving ethical questions

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