Professional ethics means a code of conduct written or unwritten for regulating the behavior and conduct of a practicing lawyer towards himself, his client, opposite party and their counsel and towards the court. It is a branch of moral science which deals with human character and conduct.
Thus, the ethics of the legal profession means the body of the rules and practices which determine the professional conduct of the members of the Bar.
Aims And Objective Of Professional Ethics
The main object of the professional ethics of advocacy is to maintain the dignity of the legal profession. Chief Justice Marshall has observed that the fundamental aim of the legal ethics is to maintain the honor and dignity of the legal profession, to secure a spirit of friendly cooperation between the bar(advocates) and the bench(judges) in the promotion of the standard of justice, to establish better and fair dealings of the counsel with his client, opponent and witnesses, to establish a spirit of brotherhood in the bar itself and to secure that lawyers discharge their responsibilities to the people.
The profession of law does not only need a high depth of knowledge of law and other social sciences but also a sense of social responsibility which requires noble and high conduct by the legal professionals.
The legal profession is one of the most brilliant, learnt and challenging professions.
Need for the Code of Legal Ethics
The legal profession is considered to be one of the oldest as well as the noble profession of this world. The legal profession, unlike other professions which are generally taken up with the sole object of earning money, is a profession of high dignity. Legal professionals have a huge responsibility towards society. This profession also contains a certain set of rules and code of conduct which every lawyer has to follow and abide by.
An advocate has some moral obligations towards his court, client and at the same time towards the society in general. The foremost obligation is that he should never act contrary to the basic principles of morality and should always act honestly. He should not do any act or even advise his client to do any act which would disrespect the entire judiciary in the country. He should conduct himself with utmost dignity and self respect in the court.
The future of the country thus depends on the maintenance of justice and it cannot be maintained unless the conduct and motive of the members of the legal profession are fair and honest. It therefore becomes the duty of the lawyer to use their knowledge in every legitimate way to maintain the dignity of the Bar.
The members of the Bar should maintain good behavior which should be defined and measured by such ethical standards however high are necessary to keep the administration of justice clean and pure. Such standards are crystallized into a written code of Professional Ethics.
Prior to the commencement of the Advocates Act, 1961 there was no mechanism which would have a check upon the conduct of an advocate. But realizing the need to have a check upon the profession so that the standards that are laid down in this field should not go down and maintained the Parliament on the recommendation of the Law Commission enacted the Advocates Act 1961.
Thus, professional ethics in law is very important to secure a spirit of friendly cooperation between the bar and the bench. If it is allowed to be weakened by those who use this novel profession to fulfill their greed, and also involve themselves in other immoral activities then there will be a time when people will lose faith in the judiciary.