The Delaware State Bar Association and the Delaware Supreme Court have jointly
adopted the Principles of Professionalism for Delaware Lawyers for the guidance
of Delaware lawyers, effective November 1, 2003. These Principles replace
and supercede the Statement of Principles of Lawyer Conduct adopted by the
Delaware State Bar Association on November 15, 1991. They are not
intended, nor should they be construed, as establishing any minimum standards
of professional care or competence, or as altering a lawyer's responsibilities
under the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct. These
Principles shall not be used as a basis for litigation, lawyer discipline or
sanctions. The purpose of adopting the Principles is to promote and
foster the ideals of professional courtesy, conduct and cooperation.
These Principles are fundamental to the functioning of our system of justice
and public confidence in that system.
A. In general. A lawyer should develop and maintain the qualities
of integrity, compassion, learning, civility, diligence and public service that
mark the most admired members of our profession. A lawyer should provide
an example to the community in these qualities and should not be satisfied with
minimal compliance with the mandatory rules governing professional conduct.
These qualities apply both to office practice and to litigation. A
lawyer should be mindful of the need to protect the standing of the legal
profession in the view of the public and should bring these Principles to the
attention of other lawyers when appropriate.
- Integrity. Personal integrity is the most
important quality in a lawyer. A lawyer's integrity requires personal
conduct that does not impair the rendering of professional service of the
highest skill and ability; acting with candor; preserving confidences; treating
others with respect; and acting with conviction and courage in advocating a
lawful cause. Candor requires both the expression of the truth and the
refusal to mislead others in speech and demeanor.
- Compassion. Compassion requires respect for the
personal dignity of all persons. In that connection, a lawyer should
treat all persons, including adverse lawyers and parties, fairly and equitably
and refrain from acting upon or manifesting racial, gender or other bias or
prejudice toward any participant in the legal process.
- Learning. A lawyer's commitment to learning
involves academic study in the law followed by continual individual research
and investigation in those fields in which the lawyer offers legal services to
- Civility. Professional civility is conduct that
shows respect not only for the courts and colleagues, but also for all people
encountered in practice. Respect requires promptness in meeting
appointments, consideration of the schedules and commitments of others,
adherence to commitments whether made orally or in writing, promptness in
returning telephone calls and responding to communications, and avoidance of
verbal intemperance and personal attacks. A lawyer should not
communicate with a Court* concerning pending or prospective
litigation without reasonable notice whenever possible to all affected
parties. Respect for the Court requires careful preparation of matters to
be presented; clear, succinct, and candid oral and written communications;
acceptance of rulings of the Court, subject to appropriate review; emotional
self-control; the absence of scorn and superiority in words or demeanor;
observance of local practice and custom as to the manner of addressing the
Court; and appropriate dress in all Court proceedings. A lawyer should
represent a client with vigor, dedication and commitment. Such
representation, however, does not justify conduct that unnecessarily delays
matters, or is abusive, rude or disrespectful. A lawyer should recognize
that such conduct may be detrimental to a client's interests and contrary to
the administration of justice.
- Diligence. A lawyer should expend the time,
effort, and energy required to master the facts and law presented by each
- Public service. A lawyer should assist and
substantially participate in civic, educational and charitable organizations.
A lawyer should render substantial professional services on a
charitable, or pro bono publico, basis on behalf of those persons who cannot
afford adequate legal assistance.
B. Conduct of Litigation.
In dealing with opposing counsel, adverse parties, judges, court
personnel and other participants in the legal process, a lawyer should strive
to make our system of justice work fairly and efficiently. A lawyer
should avoid conduct that undermines the judicial system or the public's
confidence in it, as a truth seeking process for resolving disputes in a
rational, amicable and efficient way.
- Responsible choice of forum. Before choosing a
forum, a lawyer should review with the client all alternatives, including
alternate methods of dispute resolution. A lawyer should not file or defend a
suit or an administrative proceeding without as thorough a review of the facts
and the law as is required to form a conviction that the complaint or response
- Pre-trial proceedings. A lawyer should use
pre-trial procedures, including discovery, solely to develop a case for
settlement or trial and not to harass an opponent or delay a case.
Whenever possible, stipulations and agreements should be made between counsel
to reduce both the cost and the use of judicial time. Interrogatories and
requests for documents should be carefully crafted to demand only relevant
matter, and responses should be timely, candid and not evasive. Good
faith efforts should be made to resolve by agreement objections to matters
contained in pleadings, discovery requests and objections.
A lawyer should endeavor to schedule pre-trial procedures so as to accommodate
the schedules of all parties and attorneys involved. Agreements for reasonable
extensions of time should not be withheld arbitrarily.
Only those depositions necessary to develop or preserve the facts should be
Questions and objections at deposition should be restricted to conduct
appropriate in the presence of a judge.
- Communications with the Court or Tribunal. A lawyer
should speak and write respectfully in all communications with the Court. All
papers filed in a proceeding should be as succinct as the complexity of the
matter will allow. A lawyer should avoid ex parte communications with the Court
on pending matters, except when permitted by law. Unless specifically
authorized by law, a lawyer should not submit papers to the Court without
serving copies of all papers upon opposing counsel in such a manner that
opposing counsel will receive them before or contemporaneously with the
submission to the Court.
- Settlement. A lawyer should constantly evaluate the
strength of a client's legal position and keep the client advised. A lawyer
should seek to settle any matter at any time that such course of action is
determined to be consistent with the client's best interest after considering
the anticipated cost of continuing the proceeding and the lawyer's good faith
evaluation of the likely result.
- Appeal. A lawyer should take an appeal only if the
lawyer believes in good faith that the Court has committed error, or an appeal
is otherwise required.
C. Out of state associate counsel.
Before moving the admission of a lawyer from another jurisdiction, a Delaware
lawyer should make such inquiry as required to determine that the lawyer to be
admitted is reputable and competent and should furnish the candidate for
admission with a copy these Principles.
* As used in these Principles, "Court" includes not only state
and federal courts, but also other tribunals performing an adjudicatory
function including administrative hearing panels and boards as well as