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Character traits can get a CA lawyer in trouble, including pride

The saying, “Pride comes before a fall” underscores that arrogance or a haughty nature often spurs conduct that can be injurious and self-defeating. Indeed, pride can easily cloud wise decision making and lead to adverse outcomes for individuals who can’t shelve their vanity.

Including lawyers.

A tag team of authors recently noted in a legal article focused on attorney ethics that a practitioner’s undue pride can yield clear downsides both personally and for a client. It is easy to see why that can be the case.

For starters, a tension sometimes exists between a lawyer’s need to market/promote a practice and simultaneously ensure that strict confidentiality in client matters is always maintained. The above writers stress that an attorney who overly hypes a practice risks “improperly disclosing client confidences or misrepresenting facts or analyses to potential new clients.”

The drive to self-promote also leads some attorneys to improperly advertise themselves as experts or specialists in a given legal area. Clients can obviously be hurt by that. In California, an attorney seeking recognition as a specialist must satisfy a number of specified requirements and obtain certification from the State Bar.

And, of course, some lawyers relish the chance to spotlight their accomplishments when given a public platform (e.g., the press or an online vehicle) to do so.

That can be a slippery slope, especially absent a client’s permission or when subject matter generally conveyed can be easily enough traced to a specific individual by a public audience.

Lawyers justifiably feel pride, of course when their client representation brings positive results. There can be a fine line to walk and talk, though, concerning self-promotion and absolute client protection.

And some attorneys in California and elsewhere go too far.