Civil Procedure and the Legal Profession

Civil Procedure and the Legal Profession

By H. M. Erichson, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law

 
These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions ... . They should be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.

Rule 1, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 1

Many of a lawyer's professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct ... . The Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself.

- Preamble & Scope, ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct 2
 
What's the difference between a proceduralist and an ethicist? It may sound like a joke in search of a punch line (if you come up with a good one, let me know), but here it serves as the set-up for a wide-ranging collection of papers on civil procedure and the legal profession.

Aficionados of civil procedure and legal ethics share much in common. Both deal with detailed sets of rules. Both try to understand these rules in light of their purposes, context, and interactions. Both sets of rules aim to regulate the operation of the legal system in the interest of justice. Both sets of rules govern essential aspects of the civil litigation process, while both stand apart from the substantive legal norms that govern civil disputes. That is, they are process rules; they are less about the what than about the how. 3

Despite these commonalities, procedural and ethical rules differ.

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