The Legal Environment of Business AB 272
David B. Schwartz, Esquire
February 5, 2012
“A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” (Preamble 1. ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. 2004) Every state has its own ethical code of conduct for practicing lawyers, which is typically modeled after the American Bar Association’s professional standards, Model Rules of Professional Conduct. These serve as a guide for the ethical responsibilities and conduct expected of the profession. Such leadership in ethics was first standardized by the American Bar Association in 1908 with the Canons of Professional Ethics, followed by the Model Code of Professional Conduct in 1969, and finally, in 1983, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct was adopted with numerous amendments added in the years since. With that short synopsis of the history of legal ethics, it was interesting to scrutinize the legal professional’s duty to ethical conduct in the movie, The Verdict, and argue whether or not justice was served in the end. At first there appears to be such an exaggerated depiction of appalling conduct that it borders on comical. The story revolves around Frank Galvin, depicted as a down-and-out lawyer who seems almost incapable of getting his life back on tract. The audience is pushed to feel sorry for him, although some may conclude that he is just an irresponsible, self-pitying loser. In any event, the ethical issues abound. The movie is set in Boston in the 1980’s, and begins with scenes of Attorney Galvin hounding mourners in funeral homes for potential cases, and with this harassing solicitation the audience begins to grasp the depressing moral values in question. As the story unfolds a former associate hands Frank Galvin an easy malpractice case, and it is obvious that Frank is...
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