If you have read or watched “The Lincoln Lawyer” written by Michael Connely you would also know that Lawyers and Advocates also have certain obligations and responsibilities towards their clients and courts. If Advocates do not follow professional ethics, they can be punished too. In this article, we will be defining an advocate’s responsibility and roles.
Law is considered the most honourable and noblest profession in the world. It is an important criterion that an advocate is always honest and maintains the dignity of the legal profession. An advocate should not be biased, and maintain a good relationship with the court, the court clerk and even the opposite counsel. He or She should ensure that the administration of justice is not hampered in any way. There are also certain court etiquettes that an advocate should follow, such as:
- Dress properly
- Not waste the courts time, arrive on time during proceedings,
- Always act on best interest of the client,
- Maintain decorum of the court,
- Address the judge and opposite counsel with respect,
- He should conduct himself with dignity,
- Maintain confidentiality of his client,
- He should not have any private conversation with a judge or the opposite counsel,
- The duties of lawyers towards their clients shall include:
- Advising clients as to their legal rights and obligations, and as to the working of the legal system in so far as it is relevant to the legal rights and obligations of the clients,
- Assisting clients in every appropriate way, and taking legal action to protect their interests,
- Assisting clients before courts, tribunals or administrative authorities, where appropriate.
- He should never act illegally,
- Frank disclosure to the client,
- Not have any financial interest in a matter,
- Keep proper accounts of transactions
“Many of a lawyer’s professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession’s ideals of public service.”
Guarantees/Rights & Privileges for the functioning of lawyers:
- Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
- Where the security of lawyers is threatened because of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
- Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority.
Conflict of Interest and a Lawyer’s Duty
A conflict of interest occurs when an individual’s personal interests – family, friendships, financial, or social factors – could compromise his or her judgment, decisions, or actions in the workplace.  “Conflicts of interest are particularly relevant in the field of insurance due to the duty to defend. In a standard insurance policy, like the one in Swanson v. State Farm General Insurance Company, the insurance company includes terms which grant them the right to control any insurance claim related lawsuit the policyholder is involved in. In this scenario, the attorney(s) provided by the insurance company represent both the policyholder and the insurer, creating a potential conflict of interest.” Rule 1.7 of the American Bar Association discusses general principles in regard to attorney-client relationships.
“An advocate has duties which are to be performed towards himself, his clients, opponents, colleagues, court etc. An advocate must present his case before the court fearlessly. All these duties, ethics and morals help an advocate to be in a better position in his career and become a successful lawyer.”
 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers | OHCHR  Model Rules of Professional Conduct: Preamble & Scope (americanbar.org)  Id 1.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Understanding Conflict of Interest (ucf.edu)  conflict of interest | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)  Advocate's Duty Towards Court (legalserviceindia.com)