Legal Ethics Law and Legal Definition

Legal ethics is the minimum standards of appropriate conduct within the legal profession. It is the behavioral norms and morals which govern judges and lawyers. It involves duties that the members owe one another, their clients, and the courts. Respect of client confidences, candor toward the tribunal, truthfulness in statements to others, and professional independence are some of the defining features of legal ethics. Legal ethics can also refer to the study or observance of those duties or the written regulations governing those duties.

In the U.S. each state or territory has a code of professional conduct which dictates the rules of ethics. The state bar associations, often in consultation with the court, adopt a set of rules that set forth the applicable ethical duties. The American Bar Association has promulgated the Model Rules of Professional Conduct which, addresses many topics like the client-lawyer relationship, duties of a lawyer, dealings with persons other than clients, law firms and associations, public service, advertising, and maintaining the integrity of the profession. Lawyers who fail to comply with local rules of ethics may be subjected to disciplinary actions. Law schools in the U.S. are also required to offer a course in professional responsibility, which includes both legal ethics and general matters of professionalism that do not present ethical concerns.