Thoughts on How to Avoid Ethical Dilemmas

There are two fundamental ways to avoid, or at least limit, ethical issues in the practice of law.

The first is no fun but necessary. Read the Rules of Professional Conduct. All of them, all the way through. Because even the ones that don’t apply to you may pop up as you deal with others to whom they do apply. Reread them every few years and check for updates when the Rules change.

The second is easy. If you think twice about doing something, then you need to stop and explore that. That gut “twinge” that made you wonder if your conduct is okay is your brain remembering something relevant to the conduct. It may be that your conduct is not only fine, but was sanctioned by the Rules, or it might be that your conduct is part of the highlighted “DON’T DO ITS” in every seminar material you ever received. Just asking the question out loud may be all it takes to realize that your brilliant thought truly is brilliant, or will get you on the fast track to the Statewide Grievance Committee. If your own brain can’t answer the question, then ask someone else until you are comfortable with the answer, until the “twinge” is gone.

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