St. Mary's Law Journal


This Comment seeks to provide practical guidance in evaluating ethical issues for Texas attorneys considering representing a relative. Attorneys must always look to the relevant rules of professional conduct, advisory opinions, and case law to evaluate whether or not representation adheres to ethical guidelines. The primary sources of guidance are the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (Texas Disciplinary Rules), advisory opinions from the Supreme Court of Texas Professional Ethics Committee (Texas Professional Ethics Committee), and Texas case law. Part II of this Comment discusses the history of professional responsibility, characteristics of representing family members, and common ethical problems arising from family representation. Part III examines sources of ethical guidance from Texas and other states which discuss representation of family members and further analyzes how the legal profession addresses these situations. Part IV summarizes ethical considerations of representing family members and provides practitioners with a systematic basis for analyzing and deciding whether the representation satisfies ethical requirements. Finally, this Comment suggests changes to the Texas Disciplinary Rules to clarify and facilitate evaluations of ethical issues surrounding family representation. Texas practitioners cannot obtain all the necessary ethical guidance from Texas jurisprudence because of the limited number of professional conduct rules, advisory opinions, and cases relating to representation of family members. The Texas jurisprudence that does exist, however, points towards a general principle that representation of family members does not trigger any special ethical concerns. From the Texas Disciplinary Rules to the Texas Professional Ethics Committee advisory opinions, all indications suggest that the family relationship plays little role in ethical considerations.


St. Mary's University School of Law