Contributed by Miller Butler.
At Miller | Butler, our lawyers strive to act in good faith as honest advocates for our clients. Acting as an advocate for others requires honesty, integrity, and a commitment to uphold the principles of our profession, and the principles of our clients. The Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct, https://rules.arcourts.gov/w/ark/arkansas-rules-of-civil-procedure, describe a lawyer’s responsibilities as being members of the legal profession, representing clients, acting as officers of the legal system, and as public citizens with the responsibility to help the public achieve justice. ARPC 1. Importantly, lawyers are guided by these rules, by a sense of honor and integrity, and by a common goal of being zealous advocates for their clients.
Rule 3.1 of the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct explains that lawyers have a duty to the legal system and to their clients to bring forth or defend claims with good faith arguments that are based in law and fact, and are not frivolous. See ARPC 3.1. Lawyers are required to inform themselves about the facts of their clients’ cases, the law that applies to those cases, and then to determine where an argument can be made, in good faith, in support of their clients’ positions. See ARPC 3.1, Comment 2.
Several cases can help to inform attorneys on what it means to act in accordance with ARPC Rule 3.1. In Ligon v. Tapp, an Arkansas lawyer was disbarred for violating several rules, among them Rule 3.1, because he filed bankruptcy petitions for himself and his business partners without their consent and without having enough understanding of bankruptcy law to know that his company did not qualify for Chapter 13 relief. 2017 Ark. 185, 519 S.W.3d 315. The lawyer was disbarred for several other matters as well, continually highlighting the fact that we, as lawyers, must act in good faith and as honest advocates to not only ensure adequate representation for our clients, but to fulfill our duties to our country and our state’s legal system.