Ethical Considerations for Young Lawyers

Many situations arise in the work place where young lawyers find themselves facing real ethical dilemmas.

For example, your supervisor has asked you to do something that you believe may violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.   Or you become aware that another lawyer has engaged in conduct already that may be unethical.  Or a close friend or family member has cornered you for some “free” legal advice.  What should the young lawyer do in these situations?

These are serious questions that can thrust the young lawyer into both a moral and practical dilemma.  Should the lawyer simply follow orders of their superior, keep their mouth shut, and hope it all works out, thus potentially making the lawyer a party to unethical conduct?  Or should the young lawyer speak up about their concerns, and thus expose themselves to alienating their superior or others in the work place and risk losing employment in a market where jobs are precious? And what are pitfalls for the lawyer faced with a “family or friend” request for legal services?

These are unenviable scenarios.  Moreover, experience shows that law schools fall short of providing real-world guidance for the soon-to-be lawyer on how to spot, and navigate, these and other tricky ethics issues.

To learn more about this subject, the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law is sponsoring a webinar on Friday, March 9, from 2 – 3 pm Eastern, entitled, “Risky Business: Ethical Considerations for Young Lawyers.”  The webinar is a joint production of the Young Lawyer Action Group (YLAG) and the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the ABA IP Law Section  (ABA-IPL), on which I serve as co-vice chair.  Details for attending the webinar are posted on the YLAG website.


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