The Not-So-Baffling Mystery of the Missing Ethics Rule

ABA  Model Rule 7.6: Political Contributions To Obtain Legal Engagements Or Appointments By Judges
A lawyer or law firm shall not accept a government legal engagement or an appointment by a judge if the lawyer or law firm makes a political contribution or solicits political contributions for the purpose of obtaining or being considered for that type of legal engagement or appointment.

That’s pretty clear, is it not? The American Bar Association, in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, now followed (in various, eccentric forms, to be sure) by 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, emphatically declares that “pay-to-play” arrangements are unethical for lawyers even in states where the sleazy practice might be legal. “Pay-to play” is, after all, classic corruption, older than Mayor Curley, Richard Daley, Boss Tweed and Mister Potter. Lawyers contribute big bucks to the campaign funds of state and local powerbrokers, including Attorneys General and judges, and get big state contracts in return. It is indefensible ethically, although you can find plenty of people who will defend it, their tongues crossed tightly behind their backs all the while. Continue reading