All lawyers take an oath before admission to the Bar. The oath is an ancient and sacred requirement of the profession. We pledge to put the interests of our clients before ourselves. This is the core of any professional relationship.
But America has been captured by a strange and immoral idea: that greed justifies anything, that the only obligation—of a corporation, or a law firm, or a citizen—is to maximize profit.
Lawyers cannot maximize profit and honor their oath at the same time. You must choose.
Remember the words of President Lincoln:
“…resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.”
Be an honest lawyer. Always honor the trust your client puts in you. REMEMBER YOUR OATH.
Lawyer Suspended For Helping Client Commit CrimeLawyer Suspended For Helping Client Commit Crime
The Florida Supreme Court found that lawyer Charles Paul-Thomas Phoenix assisted this client in defrauding investors in vacation rental units and falsifying federal mortgage documents. Phoenix was suspended for two years.
Criminals, of course, are entitled to legal representation; but they are never entitled to legal assistance in committing crimes. Any lawyer who abuses the law license in this way deserves, in my opinion, to be disbarred completely rather than just suspended. Any time the penalty is not enough to deter the crime—for example if a bank robber was only required to pay back half of what he stole—then you will see more crime.
That’s why corporate crime is increasing. Big companies almost never have to pay back even a fraction of what they steal in illegal fees or other scams. We should be careful not to let those perverse temptations into our profession. Lawyers that break the rules must be punished severely enough to deter anyone else who might be seduced by greed.