“Who Should Regulate Class Action Lawyers?”

In this article, Professor Nancy Moore explores ethical issues impli-cated by class action litigation. She begins by pointing out that neither the Model Code of Professional Responsibility nor the Model Rules of Professional Conduct deal specifically with the ethics of class action law-yers. The author, who acted as Chief Reporter of the Ethics 2000 Com-mission, argues that the Commission’s decision not to draft rules directly addressing the ethics of class action litigation was appropriate. Focusing on the problem of conflicting interests, she argues that the confusion surrounding the ethics of class action lawyers can be significantly reduced by recognizing, first, that the class itself is the client and, second, that much of what are currently described as “conflicts of interest” were never meant to be addressed by traditional conflict-of-interest doctrine. Even if there are some situations in which relaxation of the ethics rules may be justified in order to accommodate class actions, these situations are better addressed by case law interpreting Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The author argues that in ad-dressing adequacy of representation issues under Rule 23, courts should still take into account many of the principles and concerns motivating Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.7.

The full text of this Symposium is available to download as a PDF.