Missed Opportunities: Louisiana’s Version of the Rules of Professional Conduct
88 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2000
We are entering a period of potentially significant changes in the rules that govern the conduct of lawyers. The American Law Institute has just published its new Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers. It contains a number of provisions that significantly depart from conventional codes of lawyer conduct. An American Bar Association commission, called the Ethics 2000 Commission, has just completed an extensive review of one of the ABA’s own products - the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Commission’s report calls for significant changes in the rules. Other efforts are underway that could result in changes to existing ethics rules. These developments at the national level will eventually encourage Louisiana and other states to re-evaluate their own rules on lawyer conduct. They will create a climate for change.
Something like this happened not too long ago. In 1983, the American Bar Association promulgated the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Those rules were substantially different from the Model Code of Professional Responsibility, which Louisiana, and most other states, had used as a model for their own rules on lawyer conduct. Most states eventually followed the lead of the American Bar Association, and patterned their lawyer codes on the Model Rules. Louisiana was no exception. It adopted the new Rules of Professional Conduct in 1986. But Louisiana did not entirely follow the ABA’s lead. While it adopted most of the ABA’s black-letter rules, it did not adopt some significant elements in the ABA’s model. In particular, Louisiana did not adopt the Preamble, Scope, and Terminology sections that appeared at the front of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Nor did Louisiana adopt the comments that followed each of the ABA-drafted rules. In omitting these materials, Louisiana missed some opportunities.
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