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New Guide to Ethical Conduct

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has recently revised “The Bounds of Advocacy,” a publication which sets forth goals for ethical conduct in the practice of family and divorce law. Existing codes often fail to provide adequate guidance to lawyers. Family law disputes occur in a volatile and emotional environment, and parties in matrimonial disputes often need to interact for years to come. Potential harm to the children is a significant problem for which ethical guidance is also needed.

The new “Bounds” contains sections on competence and advice, communication and decision-making responsibility, conflicts of interest, fees, client conduct, children, professional cooperation, and the attorney as mediator or arbitrator. It incorporates most of the material in the earlier version, published in 1991, while expanding and fine-tuning certain areas based on recent developments in divorce and family law.

It has a number of significant changes and improvements over the earlier version:

  • It recognizes and addresses the increased use of alternatives to litigation for resolving disputes.
  • It has an entire chapter devoted to issues involving children, including child abuse and bringing children to court as witnesses.
  • It contains specific sections dealing with materials received in error or confidential materials received from unknown or unauthorized sources.

The new “Bounds” has been published as a booklet and can be purchased for $10 by calling 1-800-422-6595.