Earlier this year the Department of Justice made public a report of its investigation into the conduct of two Department lawyers who advised the Bush Administration on interrogating suspected terrorists. The Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) found that the lawyers had committed professional misconduct and recommended that its findings be referred to their state bar disciplinary authorities. But a senior Department official overrode OPR’s findings and recommendation because he disagreed
with the legal standard OPR had applied in reaching its decision. Although critical of the lawyers’ legal analysis, the official concluded it did not rise to the level of professional misconduct. Some have disagreed with his conclusion.
The Department’s resolution of OPR’s investigation puts a spotlight on an aspect of the practice of law that can prove problematic: whether a lawyer can give a client “the green light” for action the client proposes to take. It can be exceedingly difficult to tell an important client “No” – even when the client wants to engage in conduct that might well be illegal.
This program will examine the rules of professional conduct that New Hampshire lawyers must consider when they advise a client in a transactional or litigation matter on the legality of action the client wishes to take or has taken. The program will explore how lawyers can reconcile their obligation to their clients with their obligation to comply with the ethics rules without crossing the line, committing professional misconduct and risking a disciplinary sanction.
Written materials are included.