Ethics Opinions

Opinion No. 95-1

Summary: The Massachusetts Bar Association, and indeed all lawyers practicing in Massachusetts, have benefited immensely from the services rendered by Andrew L. Kaufman, Esq. as a member and long-time chairman of the MBA Committee on Professional Ethics.

Facts: Andrew L. Kaufman, Esq., Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor of Law at Harvard University, has been a member of the MBA Committee on Professional Ethics for 16 years and its chairman for 12 years. Professor Kaufman, whose book Problems in Professional Responsibility is in its third edition, is one of the nation's foremost teachers of legal ethics. His students are found throughout the nation and abroad. A special group of his students, however, receives his personal tutoring. They are, of course, the lawyers of Massachusetts.

Where else can a lawyer with a mind boggling emergency involving legal ethics receive, without charge, the benefit of the wisdom and knowledge of one of the nation's most respected ethics experts? When from time to time members of the committee have commended Professor Kaufman on his efforts on its behalf, he has replied to the effect, "Oh, that's what I do," meaning, that it ties in with his formal teaching and writing. That may be true, but it does not address the extraordinary qualities that Professor Kaufman brings to what he does.

His knowledge of the law pertaining to legal ethics and, particularly, of the law pertaining to Massachusetts legal ethics is unsurpassed. That knowledge is a valuable resource to all members of the committee. Yet, that knowledge alone does not answer all the questions that come before the committee. Professor Kaufman and other members of the committee often wrestle with novel questions of application of law to facts and difficult issues of judgment. It is in these cases that his commitment to listening carefully to views contrary to his own, to conducting the committee graciously and democratically, and to getting it right even if that means abandoning tentatively held views establish Professor Kaufman as a true leader and teacher of the Massachusetts bar.

Discussion: The facts speak for themselves. Professor Kaufman has earned our respect, affection and esteem. On behalf of the lawyers of Massachusetts, the MBA and its Committee on Professional Ethics resolve that Andrew L. Kaufman be publicly acclaimed for his brilliant and dedicated service to members of the legal profession and through them to the commonwealth.

Permission to publish granted by the Board of Delegates on January 13, 1995. As stated in the Rules of the Committee on Professional Ethics, this advice is that of a committee without official governmental status.

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