The legal profession has a huge responsibility of offering progressive development of responsible business practices. A Business attorney must be more visible in corporate social responsibility to foster integration between legal and corporate responsibility mindsets. Business lawyers need to address their roles in humility in order to sustain the critical innovation and vibrancy fundamental to maintaining corporate responsibility. Lawyers are essential in the working-out of the law. The rule of law is established on the principles of fairness, equity, and justice. Failure to adhere to these ethical principles by lawyers causes disruption, and people resort to alternative conflict resolution methods.
Lawyers have divided loyalties- their duty to the court while still owing their duty to their client. Sometimes these duties collide, and the lawyer is obligated to fulfill his or her obligations to the court. Many lawyers do not understand this concept, and they end up engaging in unethical practices defeating the interests of justice. This is where ethics comes in. Committing to legal ethics entails a commitment to the Codes of Ethics. Lawyers are professionals, and this idea indicates that issues of ethical responsibility and duties are an essential part of the legal profession.
Application of ethical principles in the legal profession
Applications of ethical responsibilities and obligations are divided into duties owed to the court and duties owed to the client. Breaching these moral obligations may lead to civil proceedings by the client. For instance, breach of confidence or actions of negligence promotes grounds for disciplinary proceedings under the pertinent legal practitioners’ legislation.
Conflict of interest
It is clearly stated that a lawyer has a trustee duty to his or her client. The duty has two relevant responsibilities: obligation to avoid conflict between his own interests and those of his clients. He or she must not make profit or benefit at the expense of his or her client. Conflict of interests has been highly noted as a common problem in legal practice. This area requires balancing between two public interests; the interests of clients having full confidence in their lawyers, and the interest in the freedom of a lawyer to take instructions and for the client to be represented by a lawyer of their choice.
Areas of potential conflict:
Acting for both parties– a lawyer should not work for both parties unless there is no other suitable practitioner available.
The lawyer, the client, and vested interests– competing loyalties to different clients arises when lawyers borrow from clients or have business dealings with the client and fail to adequately disclose to the client or arrange for the client to receive independent advice.
Opposing a former client– law firms have come up with mechanisms of quarantining former clients’ information to avoid compromising the confidences of the former clients.
Confidentiality– the duty of confidence gives rise to ethical obligations; therefore, breaching a client’s confidentiality can be grounds for disciplinary actions.
Law is a profession, and lawyers are obligated to their clients and the court. These obligations are well articulated under Rules of Practice or the Code of Ethics.