Playing Professional Responsibility Hardball With Federal Agency Lawyers

Government Agency lawyers often operate within a protected bubble, shielded by a system that is plagued by corruption, nepotism, fraud, and waste. As long as these attorneys follow the party line, their jobs are secure, and they enjoy a comfortable retirement. However, not all government lawyers engage in this behavior, but the temptation to do so can be overwhelming. Generally, government attorneys can secure their positions by aligning themselves with the agency director or a high-ranking bureaucrat.

However, there is one authority that is greater than any bureaucrat, and that is the Bar. The mere mention of the Bar can send shockwaves through all federal agency lawyers, as they are not generally familiar with the workings of professional responsibility rules. The fear of suspension or disbarment can be so intense that government lawyers may cave to a bar complaint without having the stomach for it.

Although disgruntled clients typically file most bar complaints, historically, proactive state bar organizations have taken a hard line against frivolous or unethical behavior. Private practice attorneys typically develop well-thought-out defensive strategies to defend themselves against these types of complaints. On the other hand, agency lawyers often have little or no understanding of professional responsibility rules.

The bubble cannot protect these lawyers from the ramifications of unethical conduct. For example, if an agency lawyer represents a federal employee whose existing whistleblower claim proves to be unfounded, the lawyer would be required to withdraw from the representation. If the agency forces the employee to take a lowball offer, threatening termination if they refuse, and then orders the lawyer to defend the claim, the lawyer would have violated professional responsibility rules.

Likewise, if an agency lawyer communicates directly with a client who is already represented by counsel, it would be a violation of professional responsibility rules. Additionally, if a lawyer at the U.S. Department of State fails to disclose emails from Hillary Clinton as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, it would suggest that the attorney was more loyal to the Clintons than the Rules of Professional Responsibility, putting their career in peril.

Ultimately, the bubble can’t protect bad actors from the consequences of their unethical behavior.

Check Also

The Future of Staffing: Trends to Watch in Columbus, GA

Meta description: Discover the latest trends in staffing and recruitment in Columbus, GA. Learn about …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *