The Wizard of Oz follows the story of Dorothy Gale, Toto the Dog, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City in search of the Wizard of Oz. In some respects, the Scarecrow’s quest for a Brain, the Tin Man’s quest for a Heart, and the Cowardly Lion’s quest for Courage have parallels found in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”).
The Scarecrow’s quest for a brain implicates Rule 1.1: Competence; it also connects to appreciating the ethical obligations of maintaining the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of the client under Rule 1.6 (and how the lawyer’s Rule 1.6 ethical obligation to maintain confidentiality is related to, and yet distinct from, the attorney-client privilege evidentiary rule). Likewise, understanding is needed to appreciate that, as recognized by Rule 1.2, the client in the attorney-client relationship is the principal and the attorney is the agent; and yet, under Rule 1.4, the lawyer has an ethical obligation to communicate with the client and provide information and guidance to the client so that the client can make informed decisions about the representation.
The Tin Man’s quest for a heart reminds us that, as lawyers, we are also public citizens having special responsibility for the quality of justice. With respect to this special responsibility, the Preamble to the Rules recognizes: “A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel.” In that regard, Rule 6.1 addresses “voluntary pro bono publico service,” the work that we lawyers should aspire to do, and what efforts and endeavors qualify under the Rule. In addition, Rule 8.4(g) identifies as professional misconduct harassment or discrimination based on “race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” These Rules remind us that, as lawyers, we have a higher calling.