In its basic context, legal ethics pertain to the minimum standards of conduct among legal professionals. It defines the professional responsibilities and behavioral morals which govern attorneys and judges, and focuses on the duties that such professionals grant to one another, the courts, and their clients.
In the U.S. each state or territory has a code of professional conduct which dictates the rules of ethics. The state bar associations, often in consultation with the court, adopt a set of rules that set forth the applicable ethical duties. The American Bar Association has promulgated the Model Rules of Professional Conduct which, addresses many topics like the client-lawyer relationship, duties of a lawyer, dealings with persons other than clients, law firms and associations, public service, advertising, and maintaining the integrity of the profession. Lawyers who fail to comply with local rules of ethics may be subjected to disciplinary actions. Law schools in the U.S. are also required to offer a course in professional responsibility, which includes both legal ethics and general matters of professionalism that do not present ethical concerns.
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