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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 6.01


1. A lawyer may be subject to appointment by a court to serve unpopular clients or persons unable to afford legal services. For good cause a lawyer may seek to decline an appointment to represent a person who cannot afford to retain counsel or whose cause is unpopular. Good cause exists if the lawyer could not handle the matter competently, see Rule 1.01, or if undertaking the representation would result in an improper conflict of interest, for example, when the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client. Compare Rules 1.06(b), 1.15(a)(2), 1.15(b)(4). A lawyer may also seek to decline an appointment if acceptance would be unreasonably burdensome, for example, when it would impose a financial sacrifice so great as to be unjust. Compare Rule 1.15(b)(6). However, a lawyer should not seek to decline an appointment because of such factors as a distaste for the subject matter or the proceeding, the identity or position of a person involved in the case, the lawyer's belief that a defendant in a criminal proceeding is guilty, or the lawyer's belief regarding the merits of a civil case.

2. An appointed lawyer has the same obligations to the client as retained counsel, including the obligations of loyalty and confidentiality, and is subject to the same limitations on the client-lawyer relationship, such as the obligation to refrain from assisting the client in violation of the Rules.

Public Interest Service

3. The rights and responsibilities of individuals and organizations in Texas and throughout the United States are increasingly defined in legal terms. As a consequence, legal assistance in coping with the web of statutes, rules and regulations is imperative for all persons. Consequently, each lawyer engaged in the practice of law should render public interest legal service. Personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.

Unpopular Causes

4. A lawyer ordinarily is not obliged to accept a client whose character or cause the lawyer regards as repugnant. Frequently, however, the needs of such a client for a lawyer's services are particularly pressing and, in some cases, the client may have a right to legal representation. At the same time, either financial considerations or the same qualities of the client or the client's cause that make a lawyer reluctant to accept employment may severely limit the client's ability to obtain counsel. As a consequence, the lawyer's freedom to reject clients is morally qualified. Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval. By the same token, a lawyer's representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

5. An individual lawyer may fulfill the ethical responsibility to provide public interest legal service by accepting a fair share of unpopular matters or indigent or unpopular clients. History is replete with instances of distinguished and sacrificial services by lawyers who have represented unpopular clients and causes. Regardless of his personal feelings, a lawyer should not decline representation because a client or a cause is unpopular or community reaction is adverse. Likewise, a lawyer should not reject tendered employment because of the personal preference of a lawyer to avoid adversary alignment against judges, other lawyers, public officials, or influential members of the community.