The Ethical Life of a Corporate Lawyer

During the lead up to the financial crisis certainly several of us saw at some point that there were major problems and we talked with clients.
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TRANSCRIPT

Rodge Cohen: The question of when a lawyer has a responsibility in a sense to blow the whistle It’s not as simple as in many other situations and that is principally because a lawyer’s first duty and the lawyer’s predominate duty is to the client, so that up to the point where there is criminal action or as may otherwise be set forth in various statutes no matter how strongly a lawyer feels about the client’s course of conduct you have no choice.  You cannot go to the regulators and say the client is doing the wrong thing.  You can’t go to the shareholders.  You can’t tell a newspaper.  That would be a clear violation of your legal and ethical responsibility.  Now you can be a strong advocate with your client, but the client ultimately gets to make the decision and there are examples of this.  During the lead up to the financial crisis certainly several of us saw at some point that there were major problems and we talked with clients.  There were situations where there regulators talked to us about them and we could, to an extent, discuss these issues if they did not involve responses which were contrary to the interests of clients.  Maybe some of us should have advocated even more vigorously with our clients and maybe we also should have seen it a bit earlier than what actually occurred.