Professor McGinniss Publishes Article in The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


Professor Michael S. McGinniss has published an article in Volume 29, Issue 3 of The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, which is the highest-ranked legal ethics journal in Washington and Lee’s annual national and international rankings.

He was invited to write this article and present its ideas for the Journal’s 2016 Symposium on Remaining Ethical Lawyers in a Changing Profession. His panel (which included scholars from Columbia, Fordham, and Georgetown) focused on the topic Additional Guidance in the Legal Ethics Code: Necessary or Restrictive? His article, entitled The Character of Codes: Preserving Spaces for Personal Integrity in Lawyer Regulation , briefly describes the history and general traits of national codes on the regulation of lawyers, culminating with today’s ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. It then considers how and why code language exhibiting the virtue of generality and allowing for the exercise of discretion most effectively preserves spaces for personal integrity in lawyer regulation. It concludes by considering the benefits of creating voluntary, practice-specific ethical standards (such as those developed and published for matrimonial lawyers), rather than government-imposed, specialized codes detailing specific mandates for lawyers in different practice areas. Professor McGinniss advocates that voluntary, practice-specific ethical standards provide a valuable tool for capturing lawyers’ and judges’ collective experiences and expressing the ethos of a practice community, while still creating ample room for individual lawyers to act in accordance with their personal moral vision and deeply held ethical principles.