The Truth Be Told: The Need for a Model Rule Defining a Lawyer's Duty of Candor to a Client
99 Iowa L. Rev. Bull. 73 (2014)
12 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 2, 2014
As a fiduciary and officer of the court, a lawyer owes others a duty of candor. Recognizing this fundamental duty, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct includes specific rules demanding truthfulness by lawyers in their communications with the court, third parties encountered in the course of representing a client, jurors, attorney admission and disciplinary bodies, and even members of the general public. The Model Rules protect just about everyone from false or misleading statements by lawyers — oh yes, except for clients. Surprisingly, the long-standing duty of absolute candor and truthfulness to clients finds no expression in the ABA rules governing the legal profession.
This Essay surveys the genesis and content of the Model Rules defining a lawyer’s duty of truthfulness to the court, third parties, and the public. Next, the Essay examines possible explanations for the absence of a Model Rule declaring a duty of candor to clients. Finally, an amendment to Model Rule 1.4 is proposed requiring truthful communications by lawyers to their clients.
Keywords: professional responsibility, ethics, ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, candor
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation