June 18, 2015

No Dirty Tricks: How the Florida Bar’s Ethics Rules Shape the Ideal Lawyer

Categories: Legal Malpractice, Working with your attorney

Work with the Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore attorneys who understand and implement the Florida Bar Ethics Rules.

When some litigants describe their ideal lawyer, they picture a “bulldog” attorney who will fight a no-holds-barred, guerrilla-type campaign designed to flatten the other party and leave them begging for mercy. Some litigants believe that, to be truly effective, lawyers must whip out an arsenal of tricks to bully the other side into submission.

The reality, fortunately, is that rules of the Florida Bar – together with other bar associations across the country – actively prohibit just this type of unfair legal practice.

Florida Bar Rule 4-8.4(d) directs that a lawyer shall not:

[E]ngage in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly, or through callous indifference, disparage, humiliate, or discriminate against litigants, jurors, witnesses, court personnel, or other lawyers on any basis, including, but not limited to, on account of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, employment, or physical characteristic.

This rule has been used both broadly and specifically, and it serves to curb any tendency within the legal community towards harassment, bullying, or other dirty tricks. Rule 4-8.4(d) has been used, for example, to discipline a lawyer who frivolously reported the other party to the U.S. Attorney merely in an effort to intimidate her. Other attorneys have been disciplined under this rule for dishonest conduct surrounding their decisions to leave their old firms and take clients with them. Yet another attorney was disciplined because his inability to work with other attorneys delayed the administration of justice and increased the costs to his client.

Though it can be tempting to want to employ an attorney who works harder to get around the law than to obey it, most clients find that, in the end, such a lawyer is less effective at achieving the desired result. What is best is to seek an attorney who understands the laws relating to your case as well as the rules of ethics, through his or her long experience practicing to uphold them.

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we strive to zealously and ethically represent our clients and to gain them every benefit allowed by the law. Because we understand the law and the rules that govern the legal practice, we can spend our time correctly applying the law to your case. If you have need of a personal injury, medical malpractice, or legal malpractice attorney in the Tampa, Florida area, contact us today for a free consultation.

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