As a lawyer, you are expected to fulfill a variety of roles. You must be an advocate for your clients, a representative of the legal system, and a public citizen. To ensure that justice is served, you must be able to advise and represent clients in court, before government agencies, and in private legal matters. You must also be able to communicate with clients, colleagues, judges, and other parties involved in the case.
Additionally, you must be able to conduct research and analysis of legal issues, interpret laws, judgments, and regulations for individuals and companies. The responsibilities of a lawyer as a client representative, legal system official, and public citizen are often harmonious. When an opposing party is well represented, an attorney can advocate fervently on behalf of a client while taking for granted that justice is being done. Likewise, preserving the confidentiality of clients is normally in the public interest since people are more likely to seek legal advice and comply with their legal obligations when they know that their communications will be private.
However, due to the nature of legal practice, there are conflicting liabilities. Practically all difficult ethical issues arise from the conflict between the lawyer's responsibilities to clients, the legal system, and the lawyer's own interest in remaining an ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. However, within the framework of these Rules, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise.
These issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles on which the Rules are based. These principles include the lawyer's obligation to protect and zealously pursue the client's legitimate interests within the limits of the law while maintaining a professional, courteous, and civil attitude toward all people involved in the legal system. Most obligations that derive from the client-lawyer relationship are only imposed after the client has asked the lawyer to provide legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. However, there are some obligations such as confidentiality under Rule 1.6 that are required when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a relationship should be established between the client and the lawyer.