Nora Freeman Engstrom, co-director of the Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School, writes to the Board of Trustees of State Bar of California regarding the proposed new California Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3. The Rhode Center favors adoption of a rule requiring attorneys to report misconduct, as recommended by the American Bar Association (“ABA”), contained in the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers § 5(3) (Am. L. Inst. 2000), and adopted by the vast majority of states.
California’s adoption of a duty to report is long overdue. The ABA Model Rule 8.3 was adopted in 1983, and the compulsory duty to report was incorporated into the Model Code (the Model Rule’s predecessor) as early as 1970. Every other state in this country has implemented some version of the Rule, most conforming to the language of Model Rule 8.3.