American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility

American Bar Association Model Code Of Professional Responsibility

American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility

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The American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility, created by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1969, was a set of professional standards designed to establish the minimum baseline of legal ethics and professional responsibility generally required of lawyers in the United States.

It was replaced with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 1983 for a number of reasons, especially the Watergate scandal. The Code was also subject to widespread criticism from bench and bar that it was structurally flawed, difficult to understand, hard to obey, and impossible to enforce. The Code consisted of Canons, Ethical Considerations, and Disciplinary Rules, of which the first two were aspirational and only the third was mandatory. This forced judges and lawyers to sort through a maze of Canons and Ethical Considerations just to understand the Disciplinary Rule that controlled a particular ethical issue. During a key debate in late January 1982 over whether to replace the Model Code with the Model Rules, one delegate "referred to the nine canons, 129 ethical considerations and forty-three disciplinary rules as a three-dimensional chess game that lawyers played at their own peril."Center for Professional Responsibility, A Legislative History: The Development of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 1982-2005 (Chicago: American Bar Association, 2006), xiii-xiv. The American legal community demanded simple bright-line rules...
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