Redemption after an Ethical Mistake

Selena E. Molina

We learn early on in law school to strictly adhere to ethical rules and to avoid ethical violations at any cost. We learn, for example, not to lie or misrepresent the facts or the law to any tribunal (Model Rule 3.3). We learn not to communicate with an adverse party represented by counsel without their attorney’s involvement or consent (Model Rule 4.2). We learn about how to safeguard client property (Model Rule 1.15) and how to maintain client confidentiality (Model Rule 1.6). But what about when something goes wrong? Yes, we have all heard the horror stories of the “attorneys gone bad,” but what if it’s us? What if we fail? From our schooling, we know there is only one possible outcome: doom, disaster, famine; the end of a career; the downfall of an attorney. But that is not entirely true. Redemption, recovery, and regrowth are all possible, if done right.

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