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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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.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 8.04

1. There are three principal sources of professional obligations for lawyers in Texas: these rules, the State Bar Act, and the State Bar Rules. Article X, section 7 of the State Bar Rules contains a listing of the grounds for discipline under those Rules.

2. Rule 8.04 provides a comprehensive restatement of all forms of conduct that will subject a lawyer to discipline under either these Rules, the State Bar Act or the State Bar Rules. In that regard, Rule 8.04(a)(1) is intended to correspond to article X, section 7(1) of the State Bar Rules; Rule 8.04(a)(2) and 8.04(b) are intended to correspond to the provisions of article X, sections 7(8) and 26 of those Rules; and Rules 8.04(a)(7)-(10) are intended to correspond to article X, sections 7(3), 7(5), 7(6) and 7(7), respectively, of the State Bar Rules. Rule 8.04(a)(11) of these Rules corresponds to a prohibition contained in the last (unnumbered) paragraph of article X, section 7.

3. The only two provisions of article X, section 7 not specifically referred to in Rule 8.04 are addressed by other Rules. In particular, article X, section 7(2)'s provision for imposing discipline on an attorney here for conduct resulting in that lawyer's discipline in another jurisdiction is provided for by Rule 8.05 of these Rules. Similarly, article X, section 7(4)'s provision prohibiting a lawyer from failing either to provide information to a grievance or review committee, or to assert grounds for failure to do so, is made a subject of discipline by Rule 8.01 of these Rules. Violations of either of those Rules, in turn, subjects a lawyer to discipline pursuant to Rule 8.04(a)(1).

4. Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally in this state, the distinction has been drawn in terms of "serious crimes" and other offenses. See article X, sections 7(8) and 26 of the State Bar Rules. These Rules continue that distinction by making only those criminal offenses either amounting to "serious crimes" or having the salient characteristics of such crimes the subject of discipline. See Rules 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(b).

5. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to his fitness for the practice of law, as "fitness" is defined in these Rules. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligations that legitimately could call a lawyer's overall fitness to practice into question.

6. A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief, openly asserted, that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.02(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges to legal regulation of the practice of law.

7. Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust.