May vs. Must

Ethics Rules Don’t Give Lawyers Absolute Guidance on When to Report Wrongdoing

Finding the exact boundaries of the ethical obligation to report wrongdoing by others can be a great source of turmoil. What often makes the decision difficult is that a lawyer must reconcile the obligation to report wrongdoing with duties to preserve client confidences.

As a result, the ethics rules don’t always offer absolute guidance to a lawyer trying to decide whether to report wrongdoing by a client, another lawyer or a judge, or even someone not involved in a case. While the rules generally permit lawyers to report wrongdoing, they don’t always require it.

The Ethics 2000 Commission sorted through this dilemma during its comprehensive review of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Details here from the ABA Journal.