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Pranjali Pandya, pursuing BA LL.B. (Hons.) from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Vishakapatnam.

Date: 02.12.2020



We have observed in our history as to how humanity has struggled with those aspects of our values and beliefs that concern the morality of our conduct – what is right and what is wrong, what is good and as to what is bad, actable and unacceptable to the society at large.

The profession of law is the only profession which is generally described as a learned and noble profession by the entire world. The profession in turn carries a lot of responsibilities both inside and outside it, which no person carrying on any other profession has to shoulder. It is a great controlling and unifying institution which places upon each his duties, gives to each his rights and enforces from each obligations. The role of the lawyer is very central to the very vital organ of the state that is the Judiciary. On the stage of administration of justice, his contribution is of immense importance. The lawyers as the social thinker have to play a special role for the solidarity, unity, integrity, welfare and good of the society. A profession which is performing such an essential service to the society must also be expected to conduct itself to come up to the expectations of the society. His professional conduct must be above board. A deviance on the part of the individual members of the legal profession has a bearing on the interest, lives and condition of the life of the members of the society. Hence, the society has an interest in the manner of regulation of the deviations, deviances and delinquencies in the profession conduct of this profession.

It is very pertinent to note that the profession of lawyers ordains a high level of ethics as much as in the means as in the ends. Justice cannot be attained without the stream being pellucid throughout its course and this is of great public concern, not merely profession care, the standards of professional conduct, that is the legal ethics not only serve the interest of the society but they also help the legal profession to maintain the honour and dignity of the very profession and the system of administration of justice prevailing in the society. Further, to secure a spirit of friendly cooperation between the bench and the Bar in promotion of highest standards of justice. The same establishes honourable and fair dealings of the counsel with the client, opponent and witnesses. Above all the lawyers discharge their responsibilities to community at large.


The word is derived from the Greek word that is “Ethos” which means custom or a habitual mode of conduct. Ethics in easy term refers to moral science. It is the branch of philosophy which is only concerned with human character and conduct.[1]

Ethics also refer to systematic general science of right and wrong conduct of an individual, and morals or morality which refers to the actual patterns of conduct and direct working rules of moral action. Ethics can be said to be the study of human actions in respect of they being right or wrong actions of individuals and social groups with which we are now concerned is the one belonging to the profession of law.

Besides all these, it is pertinent to note that a lawyer must behave in a dignifies manner during the time od his case as well as while acting before the court. He should conduct himself with self – respect. Whenever there is a ground for complaint against a judicial authority, the lawyer has a duty to submit his grievances to the concerned authorities.


The expressional “legal ethics” is made up of noun “ethics” qualified by the adjective that is “legal”. Ethics is broadly a sense of duty. In other words, it is the sum of aggregate of the rules of right living. The term “legal” refers to “according to law”. “Legal ethics” is that branch of moral science which lays down certain duties for observance which an advocate owes to the society; to the Court; to the profession; to his opponent; to his clients and himself. Legal ethics has their source from tradition. On regular practice after some generations, they become usages, from usages to customs and from customs to statutory rules that is etiquette.

Generally speaking, legal ethics denotes that body of principles by which the conduct of members of legal profession is controlled, more specifically and practically considered. More specifically and practically considered, legal ethics may be defined as that branch of moral science which treats of duties which an attorney – at – law owes to his clients, to the courts, to the bar, and to the public.[2]

Legal ethics refers to the ethics of the legal profession. It is the body of rules and practices, which determine the profession conduct of the members of the Bar and of the Bench. The phrase “legal ethics”, shows the existence of a set of professional norms for lawyers apart from the moral rules which regulate the conduct of men in general.

Legal ethics means “usages and customs among members of the legal profession involving their moral and professional duties towards one another, towards clients and towards the courts that branch of moral science which treats of the duties which a member of legal profession owes to the public, to the courts, to his professional brethren, and to his client.[3]

Legal ethics are not exclusively rules – based. The customs and cultures of lawyers, to the extent that they have some effect on the delivery of legal services should also be included within an extended definition.[4] Lawyers` allegiances to these ethical values and canons of conduct have been shaped through ages. The ethics of the profession developed as the profession grew in the stature and assumed its dignified status as a strong arm of our judicial system.

Such canons of conduct serve as a guide to understand the social as well as the professional responsibilities of a lawyer. There were certain traditional ethics at one time. Later, they were formulated into statutory rules that is into law, by certain Act and Rules made there under viz. The Legal Practitioners Act of 1879; Bar Councils Act of 1926, Letters Patent of several High Courts and many more. These rules are now incorporates in the Bar Council of India Rules. Therefore, these ethics have become statutory rules now by virtue of legislation that is these ethics had become etiquette.

The four interwoven ethics or conceptions of what a lawyer ought to do can be discovered in lawyers` ethical debates, treatises and judicial pronouncement. They are as follows – [5]

1.      The ideal of devoted service to clients in a legal system where citizens need advice and representation to use the legal system (the advocacy ideal).

2.      The ideal of fidelity to the law and justice if the system is not to be sabotaged by clients who will pay a lawyer to anything (the social responsibility ideal).

3.      An ideal of willingness to work for people and causes that are usually excluded from the legal system (the just ideal).

4.      The ideal of courtesy, collegiality, and the mutual self – regulation amongst members of the profession (the ideal of collegiality).

An advocate who is enrolled under any State Bar Council has to strictly adhere to the Standards of Profession Conduct and Etiquette. As they are statutory rules, they are mandatory in nature and violation of any rule by any advocate attracts disciplinary enquiry by the State Bar Council competent to suspend him from practice for a period of some years and if the offence is very grave which renders him unfit to continue to practice law, then he can be permanently struck off from the rill as an advocate. Such power is exercised through the machinery of Disciplinary Committee of the State Bar Council.

The Legal ethics is normally concerned with the conduct of lawyers in their professional capacity; members of the Bar are required to conform to high moral standards even outside the sphere of their professional activities.


The Indian Bar Council has framed a Charter of Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, containing broadly five types of duties to be observed by the advocates: duty to court,[6] duty to client,[7] duty to opponent,[8] duty to colleague[9] and miscellaneous duties.[10] It is vital that every advocate on the roll of a Bar Council follows the standards strictly. As a member of the bar, a certain code of conduct is expected from an advocate as the public views him with a sense of trust which he should try to fulfil at all times. The ideals expected from lawyers are high especially in society where more than half of the protection of their own rights.

A Advocate shall, at all the time, conduct himself in a manner befitting his status as an officer of the Court, a privileged member of the community; and a gentleman, bearing in mind that what may be lawful and a moral for a person who is not a member of the bar, or for a member of the Bar in his non – professional capacity may still be improper for an advocate. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing obligations, an advocate shall fearless uphold the interests of his client and in his conduct conform to the rules hereafter mentioned both in letter and in spirit.


Persons into the profession of law by swearing that they shall faithfully show allegiance, loyalty and respect to their country and its laws, and render by all means, assistance to its enforcement. Lawyers shall not either involve themselves or advise their clients for the violation of the laws. When a lawyer advises the client to do something which involves the breach of any law, such a lawyer becomes equally involved in that client`s guilt, as if it is done by him. No plea of privilege to advise the client will be available to the lawyer in such cases. Therefore no lawyer is privilege to advise the client will be available to the lawyer in such cases. Therefore no lawyer is privileged to assist in a breach of the law either for his own sake, or for the private interest of the client. Strictly speaking, a reputable lawyer is not even entitled to adopt the dishonourable attitude of finding out any loopholes of the law in order to defeat in statute and advise the clients how to avoid any burden resulting there from.


Professional ethics of lawyers can be stated as the duty of then towards their profession. There are moral duties and the very basic courtesy which every person in this field should know. A lawyer who does not work with sincerity or efficiency and also does not follow the rules of the conduct is said to have violated the code of ethics of the very profession. The fundamental purpose of legal ethics is to maintain honor and dignity of the legal profession to ensure the spirit of friendly co – operation, honourable and fair dealing of the counsel with his clients as well as to secure the responsibilities and duties of the lawyers towards its profession as well as towards its society at large.

[1] Justice Ismail, Profession Ethics and Etiquette, The Law Weekly, 17 June, 1978, Vol. XCL (91), p. 77.

[2] Henry Wynans Jessup, The Professional Ideas of Lawyer, 4 (1986).

[3] Henry Campbell (ed.), Black`s Law Dictionary, 894 (1990).

[4] Stephen Parker and Charles Sampford, (eds.), Legal Ethics and Legal Practice – Contemporary Issues, 11 (1995).

[5] Christine Parker (ed.), Just Lawyers, 87 (1997).

[6] Chapter II, Section I, Rule 1 to 10.

[7] Chapter II, Section II, Rule 11 to 33.

[8] Chapter II, Section III, Rule 34 and 35.

[9] Chapter II, Section IV, Rule 36 and 39.

[10] Chapter II, Section IV – A – Advocated Welfare Fund, Section IV – duty to render legal aid (Rule 46), Section VII – Restriction on other employment (Rule 47 – 52).

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