Page images
PDF
EPUB

CONCLUSION. And now, one last word!

There is no crown awaiting the member of this Conference who, in fidelity, does his simple, inconspicuous duty. He asks none. On the contrary he realizes that the highest honor which he could crave, or 'could receive, is that meed of praise which subsists in the acknowledgment of his colleagues that he has “ fought a good fight, that he has kept the faith ” reposed in him by them, and by his own commonwealth. Such approval is sufficient and is all that there can ever be; for even when the history of the course of state legislation in this country is studied, and a painstaking account of it is written, the revelation (as we may perhaps permit ourselves to hope) will be that of a body of scientifically developed law, uniform throughout the states, so well rounded and so deeply grounded as to resemble the very growths of nature itself, and so adapted to the needs of the various communities in which it is applied, and so ingrafted into the bodies of the commonwealths themselves, that it shall bear none of the marks of the toil and care and patience employed in its construction, and shall not, therefore, disclose anything of its origin in the councils of the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. So let it be!

The joy is in the doing of the work, and in the accomplishment of the end to which the work is directed. Credit is at best only a by-product which adds nothing to the value of the substantial achievement.

This is the last opportunity which I shall have to address you as your presiding officer. May I use the opportunity to say a personal word of appreciation; appreciation of your undeviating devotion to duty; appreciation of the high order of American citizenship which you display in carrying more than your share of civic burdens; appreciation of your disinterested labor for the common good; and last and most intimately—appreciation of your great and entirely unmerited generosity and loyalty to your retiring president. These things are not sentiments. They are treasures which surpass in richness and in value all other possessions which men gather along that highway which is called “Life.”

Significant alike of the civic service in which we are engaged and of the relations which are established by our close association, as co-workers, are the words of another: "?

“Men are not tied to one another by papers and seals. They are led to associate by resemblances, by conformities, by sympathies. It is with nations as with individuals. • Nothing is so strong a tie of amity between nation and nation as correspondence in laws, customs, manners and habits of life. They have more than the force of treaties in themselves. They are obligations written in the heart."

17 Edmund Burke.

CANONS OF ETHICS. [NOTE.—The following Canons of Professional Ethics were adopted by the American Bar Association at its thirty-first annual meeting at Seattle, Washington, on August 27, 1908, and they are reproduced in the present volume pursuant to the resolution of the Association. See A. B. A. Reports, Vol. XXXIII, pages 86 and 572.)

I.

PREAMBLE.

In America, where the stability of courts and of all departments of government rests upon the approval of the people, it is peculiarly essential that the system for establishing and dispensing justice be developed to a high point of efficiency and so maintained that the public shall have absolute confidence in the integrity and impartiality of its administration. The future of the republic, to a great extent, depends upon our maintenance of justice pure and unsullied. It cannot be so maintained unless the conduct and the motives of the members of our profession are such as to merit the approval of all just men.

II.

THE CANONS OF ETHICS. No code or set of rules can be framed which will particularize all the duties of the lawyer in the varying phases of litigation or in all the relations of professional life. The following canons of ethics are adopted by the American Bar Association as a general guide, yet the numeration of particular duties should not be construed as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative, though not specifically mentioned:

1. The Duty of the Lawyer to the Courts.-It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. Judges, not being wholly free to defend themselves, are peculiarly entitled to receive the support of the Bar against unjust criticism and clamor. When

ever there is proper ground for serious complaint of a judicial officer, it is the right and duty of the lawyer to submit his grievances to the proper authorities. In such cases, but not otherwise, such charges should be encouraged and the person making them should be protected.

2. The selection of Judges. It is the duty of the Bar to endeavor to prevent political considerations from outweighing judicial fitness in the selection of Judges. It should protest earnestly and actively against the appointment or election of those who are unsuitable for the Bench; and it should strive to have elevated thereto only those willing to forego other employments, whether of a business, political or other character, which may embarrass their free and fair consideration of questions before them for decision. The aspiration of lawyers for judicial position should be governed by an impartial estimate of their ability to add honor to the office and not by a desire for the distinction the position may bring to themselves.

3. Attempts to Exert Personal Influence on the Court.-Marked attention and unusual hospitality on the part of a lawyer to a Judge, uncalled for by the personal relations of the parties, subject both the Judge and the lawyer to misconstructions of motive and should be avoided. A lawyer should not communicate or argue privately with the Judge as to the merits of a pending cause, and he deserves rebuke and denunciation for any device or attempt to gain from a Judge special personal consideration or favor. A selfrespecting independence in the discharge of professional duty, without denial or diminution of the courtesy and respect due the Judge's station, is the only proper foundation for cordial personal and official relations between Bench and Bar.

4. When Counsel for an Indigent Prisoner.--A lawyer assigned as counsel for an indigent prisoner ought not to ask to be excused for any trivial reason, and should always exert his best efforts in his behalf.

5. The Defense or Prosecution of Those Accused of Crime.--It is the right of the lawyer to undertake the defense of a person accused of crime, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused; otherwise innocent persons, victims only of suspicious circumstances, might be denied proper defense. Having undertaken such defense, the lawyer is bound by all fair and honorable means, to present every defense that the law of the land permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or liberty, but by due process of law.

The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the secreting of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible.

6. Adverse Influences and Conflicting Interests.-It is the duty of a lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the client all the circumstances of his relations to the parties, and any interest in or connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of counsel.

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose.

The obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity and not to divulge his secrets or confidences forbids also the subsequent acceptance of retainers or employment from others in matters adversely affecting any interests of the client with respect to which confidence has been reposed.

7. Professional Colleagues and Conflicts of Opinion.-A client's proffer of assistance of additional counsel should not be regarded as evidence of want of confidence, but the matter should be left to the determination of the client. A lawyer should decline association as colleague if it is objectionable to the original counsel, but if the lawyer first retained is relieved, another may come into the case.

When lawyers jointly associated in a cause cannot agree as to any matter vital to the interest of the client, the conflict of opinion should be frankly stated to him for his final determination. His decision should be accepted unless the nature of the difference makes it impracticable for the lawyer whose judgment has been overruled to co-operate effectively. In this event it is his duty to ask the client to relieve him.

Efforts, direct or indirect, in any way to encroach upon the business of another lawyer, are unworthy of those who should be brethren at the Bar; but nevertheless, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favor, to give proper advice to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel, generally, after communication with the lawyer of whom the complaint is made.

8. Advising upon the Merits of a Client's Cause.-A lawyer should endeavor to obtain full knowledge of his client's cause before advising thereon, and he is bound to give a candid opinion of the merits and probable result of pending or contemplated litigation. The miscarriages to which justice is subject, by reason of surprises and disappointments in evidence and witnesses, and through mistakes of juries and errors of Courts, even though only occasional, ad. monish lawyers to beware of bold and confident assurances to clients, especially where the employment may depend upon such

« PreviousContinue »