Volume 36

Harmonizing Legal Ethics Rules with Advocacy Norms

by Dane S. Ciolino

For millennia, advocates have used extra-evidentiary persuasion techniques to tip the scales in favor of their clients. They appeal to emotion, develop personal credibility, and tell stories to influence tribunals with irrelevancies. But in so doing, lawyers violate more recent legal ethics and adjudication rules that facially prohibit such widely accepted advocacy practices. This Article addresses the disconnect between these rules and advocacy norms. It argues that the lack of congruence between the rules as written and as enforced runs afoul of the rule of law. It concludes that legal ethics and adjudication rules should be revised to include a flexible reasonableness standard that is compatible with age-old advocacy norms.


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