Vanderbilt Law Review

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During the past two decades the legal profession has been remarkably, even frantically active in examining and drafting standards of professional conduct. The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted the Code of Professional Responsibility in 1970. Most states adopted the Code with relatively minor variations during the 1970s. The ABA repealed the Code in 1983 and adopted, in its place, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. By the beginning of 1988 one-half of the states had implemented the Model Rules, with significant variations from the ABA version in some of these states, while the remaining states either had rejected the Model Rules or were still studying them. Meanwhile,in 1985 the ABA established a Commission on Professionalism. The Commission's Report, rendered in 1986," did not propose any changes to the Model Rules, but offered an extensive list of suggestions designed to enhance our professionalism. During the same two decades, the ABA completed its multi-year project on Standards of Criminal Justice and the American Law Institute initiated a new project on a Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers.' Each new set of standards attempts in its own way to tell us how to deal with the conflicting duties that recur in the practice of law, such as conflicts between our duties to one client and to another client, and conflicts between our duties as zealous advocates for the client and as officers of the court. Conflicts are unavoidable because we owe duties to numerous constituencies-duties to clients, to professional peers, to directly affected third parties, and to society in general (personified by the courts when we litigate). The lawyer who is a partner or employee of a law firm, or who is employed by a corporation, governmental agency, or other entity, owes duties to the firm or entity. The dictates of our own consciences inject further complications when we attempt to accommodate our conflicting duties.The Articles in this Symposium provide timely encouragement to reflect on our conflicting duties as they exist in today's practice of law and as they may be aggravated if the potential practice of law of the future develops along some of the lines suggested by one of the authors.I perceive that the tensions we experience from trying to accommodate these conflicting duties have already reached dangerous levels in today's practice. We urgently need to resolve the tensions that presently exist.We should be most hesitant to adopt changed forms of practice that are likely to increase these tensions beyond existing levels.