Check out this post from Above the Law describing internal dissent after the firm won the Redskins’ right to use their name despite Native Americans’ complaints.
The rules of professional responsibility almost (almost) absolutely impute a lawyer’s actions to his entire firm. The firm’s duty of loyalty to a client requires that all lawyers stay at least consistent (if not actively loyal) to that client.
While we owe a duty of loyalty to the client, we also owe some duty to challenge our assumptions. If, for instance, a lawyer doesn’t know how to frame a case or whether what she’s doing is ethical, she may discuss the issue with colleagues (with appropriate privacy exclusions) to figure out exactly what is the best strategy.
Here it seems that within the firm there’s just some healthy intellectual challenge happening. If lawyers could not challenge one another’s beliefs we’d have a dramatically different system, right? I wouldn’t want an advocate who didn’t encourage colleagues’ critique. This issue only offends legal ethics when this attorney’s colleague sends the info to ATL.
Obvi a lawyer in a firm is effectively Miranda-ized such that she knows everything she says and does is subject to potential public scrutiny. Clearly the more questionable choices are perfect fodder for Above the Law. But isn’t the bigger offense to client confidence here actually coming from the colleague who made a public spectacle out of what would otherwise be better classified mere healthy intellectual challenge?