Post-Watergate: The Legal Profession and Respect for the Interests of Third Parties
Rigertas, Laurel A.
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This article acknowledges that the proper execution of a lawyer's duties will often demand the lawyer put his or her client's interests first, even when it harms the interests of others. That conclusion, however, should not preclude a lawyer, who is an agent of justice in addition to being an advocate, from routinely assessing the consequences of his or her conduct on the interests of third parties. Part I of this article gives a brief overview of Watergate and focuses on the specific conduct of some of the lawyers who were disciplined. Part II of this article gives an overview of the history the American Bar Association's efforts to codify ethical rules including the promulgation of the 1983 Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Part III will discuss post-Watergate events involving lawyers that have impaired the public's trust of the profession, which suggest there is still room for improvement. Lastly, Part IV will discuss possible reforms to the Model Rules and legal education that could help instill in lawyers a principle of evaluating the impact of their conduct on third parties as a routine part of legal practice and ethical decision-making.