Newest Issue - November 2007


Top 10 Ethics Traps

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Perhaps there was a time when ethics rules for lawyers were straightforward and following them was largely a matter of professional common sense. But it probably ended before your grandfather took down his shingle.

Today it’s a much different story. As law practice has become more complex, so have professional conduct rules—at least in their practical application.

“There are still bright lines, but there are lots of ambi­guities,” says professor Stephen Gillers, who teaches ethics at New York University School of Law. “If you think it’s just about the basics, you’re on the road to perdition.”

With help from Gillers and other experts on professional conduct, the ABA Journal presents its list of the 10 top ethics traps for lawyers. Some of these traps might seem a bit arcane, others obvious. But according to our experts, lawyers in all practice fields fall into them regularly—sometimes with disastrous effects.


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Poll: Which of these captions for the cartoon contest really pops?

Two prisoners watch lawyer walk out of prison.

  • 41.29%
    "He’s not much of a lawyer, but for 40 years he hasn’t forgotten my birthday."
  • 9.01%
    "I asked for help keeping my head up, but I should have been more specific."
  • 49.7%
    "How did the meeting with your attorney go?" "He said these balloons had a better chance of getting me out than he did."