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Lawyers and Their Function

Functionality of the law is closely related with the role of a lawyer in the legal system. While performing his job, a lawyer not only contributes to revealing the judicial facts but also defends the rights and freedom of his client. A lawyer is obliged to protect human rights and comply with the professional codes of ethics against the others during his professional activities. Any law office/law firm or attorney in Turkey must act under Code of Conduct for Lawyers in the European Union.

Attorneys and Nature of Code of Conduct for Lawyers

Codes of Conduct aim at making the lawyer and his profession functional. The aim of the Codes of Conduct for Lawyers/law firms/law offices in the European Union is to define common standards for attorneyship wherever it is performed in accordance with some principles. The bar association of a lawyer may have codes of conduct based on particular customs. Since these rules necessary to perform the profession functionally are common for the members of the bar association, they should be complied with by all colleagues. A lawyer is obliged to comply with the codes of conduct of a bar association he is not a member of since he performs his job temporarily there. Failing to respect these codes of conduct results in disciplinary actions.

Relation between Lawyers/Attorneys and Their Client

Start and End of Relation between a Lawyer and His Client

A lawyer starts to perform his job only when he is granted with a power of attorney by his client. He is liable to deny a case outside his capability and knowledge. In case of other issues to be immediately dealt with, the lawyer shouldn’t accept the urgent issue. If the lawyer is entitled to decline a particular case or an issue, he should use this right with the least harm to his client. He should be sure that his client will be represented by another lawyer after a specific period. The relation between a lawyer and his client ends when the attorneyship is over.

Lawyer/Attorney and Conflict of Interests

A lawyer doubting about a potential conflict of interest between more than one client, he is not entitled to represent more than one client in the same case or issue. A lawyer must cease to act for his client in case of a conflict of interests or where his independence may be impaired. A lawyer is obliged to deny a case if his business with the new client disclose the secrets of his former client.

Lawyer and Attorney’s Fees

The attorney’s fee of a lawyer for a case should be fair. The client should be well informed by the lawyer about this fee. If no agreement exists between a lawyer and his client on attorney’s fees, the lawyer is subject to the rules applied to members of the Bar Association to which he belongs. The lawyer may request a pre-payment in a reasonable amount to follow up the case. If no pre-payment is made, he may withdraw from the case.

Lawyer and Professional Indemnity Insurance

A lawyer should guarantee his professional activity by an insurance proportional to his business. If the lawyer performs his job in a different EU member state, he is subject to the rules on insurance applied to members of the Bar Association to which he belongs.

Branches such as Criminal Defense Attorney, Divorce Attorney, Compensation Attorney etc.

The Code of Conduct for Lawyers in the European Union does not mention about concrete criteria on the conducts in professional fields such as criminal defense attorneys, divorce attorneys etc. since some EU member states have criminal defense attorneys while others do not separate branches for lawyers. The Code of Conduct for Lawyers in the European Union prefers to explain the profession of attorneyship on the basis of its defense function rather than using fields such as criminal defense attorney, divorce attorney, real estate attorney and compensation attorney etc. The function of defensing, however, is a fundamental role adopted by all lawyers engaged in whether criminal law or compensation law.

Lawyer/Attorney and Independence

A lawyer should perform his job free from all other influence, especially such as may arise from his personal interests or external pressure. A lawyer should act independently againts a judge, the parties of a case and third persons. Even submitting his legal observations, a lawyer should act independently should comply with his professional standards rather than pleasing his client, the court or third parties.

Lawyers/Law Firms/Law Offices and Confidentiality

A lawyer/law firm/law office should keep secrets of his client confidential. Providing confidentiality is both a right and a duty. Confidentiality obligation of a lawyer is not limited to a specific period. Even following his resignation from the job, a lawyer is obliged to keep secrets of his client confidential. A lawyer should require his associates and staff in the course of providing professional services to observe the same obligation of confidentiality.

Lawyer/Attorney and Incompatible Occupations

Some occupations prevent a lawyer/attorney from performing his job in accordance with the professional rules on attorneyship. Therefore, the lawyers are prohibited from performing any incompatible occupations. For instance, a lawyer cannot be engaged in commercial activities.

Lawyer/Attorney and Publicizing Ban

A lawyer/attorney cannot publicize anything about him or others where there is a ban on publicizing. He may publicize something as long as the Bar Association that he is a member of allows. A lawyer may publicize something personal only when he is a member of the Bar Association allowing publicizing and only in a specific geographical location.

Lawyer/Attorney and Relations with Judges

A lawyer should always be present on trials. He is not allowed to communicate with the judge without informing the other party. A lawyer should respect the status of the Judge as much as possible and choose the right method to protect the interests of his client. A lawyer is not entitled to contact with the judges in a way to severely affect his independence and to submit groundless or misleading information to the judge.

Relation of the Lawyer with His Colleagues

In the course of his professional activity, a lawyer should give priority to the professional solidarity among the colleagues. However, professional solidarity should not predominate jurisdiction or justice. If a colleague working in an EU member state request for help, the lawyer should recommend the best lawyer for the relevant matter if he is unable to deal with the case. A lawyer/attorney cannot make any payments to any persons as a consideration for referring a client to him. A lawyer/law firm shall not communicate with the other party about a particular case directly without the consent of the other lawyer. In principle, it is mandatory to communicate directly with the lawyer of other party. A lawyer/law office may follow up a case after his colleague. However, he should make sure that his colleague has been paid his fees. He should take necessary measures to ensure that his colleague is paid his fees and should warn him within that respect. A lawyer/law firm should contribute to the training of young lawyers. This should be taken seriously since the training of young lawyers will raise the standards of the profession. If a lawyer concludes that one of his colleagues performing his job in an EU member state does not comply with the professional rules, he should inform his colleague first. Before filing a case against his colleague, the lawyer should inform both his Bar Association and the Association that his colleague is a member of and should try to agree on a friendly settlement. The Code of Conduct for Lawyers/law firm/law office in the European Union is applicable to all lawyers/attorneys in the EU member states. Whether he is a criminal defense attorney or a divorce attorney, the Code of Conduct for Lawyers in the European Union should be respected in the course of professional activities in member states. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Istanbul-Turkey Lawyer Baran Dogan