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Do Lawyers Cheat?


To some it may seem oxymoronic to question whether lawyers cheat. Actually, however, licensed lawyers must strictly follow ethical rules mandated by their State Bars, the licensing bodies that allow lawyers to practice law. Violate ethical rules and a license can be taken away.

Unfortunately, rules get broken by those who don’t wish to follow them. It’s that simple. The practice of law, like a sport, is adversarial or “me versus you” or “us versus them.” The win at all costs mentality in sports may lead to doping, the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). I would like to think Lance Armstrong would have been disbarred if he was a lawyer instead of a cyclist. The threat of losing one’s license should be one heck of a deterrent. Public humiliation another. However, for some the threat is too far removed to have any kind of an effect on day-to-day decisions.

Candor to the tribunal (the court) remains of utmost important for the legal system’s integrity. Winning by cheating not only engenders a hollow victory but it’s unethical. It can also be unlawful, resulting in criminal punishment. Lying under oath is perjury, potentially punishable with imprisonment. The “mirror test” should trump all. What we teach our children, how we live our lives, doesn’t it all come down to whether we like what we see when we look into the mirror? If we can’t take pride in how make our way in this world, what kind of life are we leading?

The daily struggles can obscure perspective. Lawyers must champion justice, search for truth, and cure wrongs. Helping clients must be done the right way, with everything the lawyer’s got. Cheaters cheat, so one of our duties is to expose and overcome. We must self-regulate, but so must our peers, judges and bar counsel help ensure all ethics are followed. Dogged, skilled determination increases the chances for victory. Here, at Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen, we play by the rules and kick the rear of those that don’t.

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