The  These Rules of Professional Conduct
are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with
reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are
imperatives, cast in the terms "shall" or "shall not". These define proper conduct for purposes of
professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term "may", are permissive and define areas
under the Rules in which the lawyer has professional discretion to exercise
No disciplinary action should be taken when the lawyer chooses not to act or acts within the
of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the lawyer and others.
The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in
they define a lawyer's professional role. Many of the Comments use the term "should".
do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the
 The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the lawyer's role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining special obligations of lawyers and substantive and procedural law in general. The comments are sometimes used to alert lawyers to their responsibilities under such other law. Compliance with the Rules, as with all law in an open society depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.
 Furthermore, for purposes of determining the lawyer's authority and
of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a client-lawyer relationship exists.
Most of the duties flowing from the client-lawyer relationship attach only after the client has
requested the lawyer to render legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. But there are
duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that
may attach when the
lawyer agrees to
consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. See Rule 1.18.
client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and
be a question of fact.
 Violation of a rule should not itself give rise to a cause of action against a lawyer
it create a presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached. The Rules are
only to provide guidance to lawyers and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through
; they are not designed to be a basis for civil liability.
Nevertheless, since the
rules do establish standards of conduct for lawyers, a lawyer's violation of a rule may be
of breach of the applicable standard of conduct. Failure to comply with an obligation or
imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that
disciplinary assessment of a lawyer's conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and
circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact
that a lawyer often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover,
Rules presuppose that whether or not imposition of discipline
should be imposed for a violation, and
the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and
of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.
These Rules are not intended to govern or affect judicial application of either the
or work product privilege. Those privileges were developed to promote compliance with law
fairness in litigation. In reliance on the attorney-client privilege, clients are entitled to expect
communications within the scope of the privilege will be protected against compelled disclosure.
The attorney-client privilege is that of the client and not of the lawyer. The fact that in
situations the lawyer under the Rules has a limited discretion or duty to disclose a client
does not vitiate the proposition that, as a general matter, the client has a reasonable expectation
information relating to the client will not be voluntarily disclosed and that disclosure of such
information may be judicially compelled only in accordance with recognized exceptions to the
attorney-client and work product privileges.
 The Comment accompanying each Rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the Rule. The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The Comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each Rule is authoritative.
Reference: Minutes of the Professional Conduct Subcommittee of the Attorney Standards Committee on 01/10/86; Minutes of the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards on 09/24/04, 06/14/05.