A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice. Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship with and function in our legal system. A consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.
A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.
The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. They are imperatives, cast in the terms shall or shall not. The comments are cast often in the terms of may or should and are permissive, defining areas in which the lawyer has professional discretion. When a lawyer exercises such discretion, whether by acting or not acting, no disciplinary action may be taken. The Comments also frequently illustrate or explain applications of the rules, in order to provide guidance for interpreting the rules and for practicing in compliance with the spirit of the rules. The Comments do not, however, add obligations to the rules and no disciplinary action may be taken for failure to conform to the Comments.
Download the full text of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.