One of the
best sources of entertainment about professional ethics is the monthly
newsletter of the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania (USA) Supreme Court.
Because I cannot begin to approach the wittiness of their writers, I beg their
pardon for quoting this month's example of bizarre professional responsibility
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'
The legal profession owes a debt of gratitude to
conservators, who undertake the review and distribution of the files and
records of former attorneys who are suspended or disbarred, die, become
disabled, or disappear (disappearance happens). The work is often hard,
tedious, unappreciated, and done for little or no compensation.
Some conservators in South Carolina have discovered an even
more odious problem. They reported to the Supreme Court that the files of
departed attorneys were not maintained in a safe and sanitary condition, and in
some cases were moldy and infested with insects and rodents. This led the Court
to issue an order authorizing conservators to petition for relief
from the duty to examine, remove, and relinquish papers in files kept in
unsanitary or unhealthy conditions.
Nothing in the Rules of Professional Conduct requires a
lawyer to maintain personal or professional hygiene, but Rule 1.15(b)
requires that all property in which a client has an interest, including the
client's file, must be "appropriately safeguarded." Comment (1) to Rule 1.15
adds, "A lawyer should hold property of others with the care required of a
professional fiduciary." The dictionaries don't say so, but most likely
"professional" excludes bugs and rodents. 
Unless you are a professional
entomologist or rodentologist.
Yes, "rodentologist" is a word.
Rodentologists even have an association.
In fact, the British Association of
Rodentologists calls itself the BAR (as distinguished from The Bar) and states
"the BAR has offered specialist training to many people interested in the
health and welfare of rodents, especially Guinea Pigs."
Although, thankfully, "the training
offered by the BAR extends well beyond guinea pigs."
The Bar has not always been so
dedicated to the health and welfare of rodents, especially guinea pigs.
There are those who allege the
presence in The Bar of certain species of rodents.
How long has it been since you have
ventured into the place where you store your retired paper files?
Read more on the Walker Clark
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