ELEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF LEGAL ETHICS


Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D, J.D., Etc.*


The list of universal principles of legal ethics below is intended to be simplistic, but quick and helpful guides. It works for all sorts of lawyers. If they are followed religiously and if interpreted broadly, the chances are that no to only a few ethical problems will arise.  Occasionally, I have had these at CLE conferences.  Every once in a while, I am told that lawyers  have pinned them up to their walls. Obviously, I am greatly complemented. Of course, I am not suggesting that some really need to do something like this. Most of you will know all of the “Commandments,” and many of the few comments.  (More comments are to be found elsewhere on my other blog.)



I.   You are the client’s fiduciary. Study its meaning. Two features: (1) Q: Whose interests come first, for example? A: Clients! = “uberrima fides.” (2) Q. How    important is the client? A. Maximally!


II. Do not gouge the client(s)—even a little bit.


III. Do not lie (with one puzzling exception, maybe).


IV. Perform well promptly. (Two commandments in one.)


V. Serve vigorously but silently, Speak completely with clients, sometimes  “insistently,” and argumentatively. Do not hold your peace. Never just tell the client what s/he wants to hear.


VI. Don’t do the crime, at all, ever. Resist temptation of any sort.


VII. Avoid unnecessary duels. Always advise client: the unnecessary is almost always irrational.


VIII. Invariably exhibit civility. Inveterate civility is no vice; indeed it a great virtue and is both noble and powerful.  It can always be part of vigor—indeed, an impressive and powerful component. Besides, lawyer honor demands it. It costs nothing.


IX. No dirty clashes!àNo cheating! C-IX is true even if few actions bring more pleasure than bedeviling the devil.) Vigor not demand dirt.


X. Get needed help timely on individual problems (legal and otherwise). If prep precedes, no adverse impression. No shame here.


XI. Embrace, receive, respond, and provide appropriate help, i.e., systematic general help, without hesitation., where possible. Systematic intelligent, restrained pursuit advisable. Get more than one mentor=pass the load.




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Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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