Statement of Principles

The municipal attorney occupies a position of responsibility and trust in local government. Recognizing this, the members of Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA), consisting of attorneys whose practice includes providing legal services to cities and towns or who otherwise devote a substantial portion of their practice to the advancement of municipal law, commit themselves to the standards of conduct set forth herein.

Central to that responsibility and trust is an expectation of and commitment by members to hold themselves to the highest ethical standard. Members shall make every effort to earn the trust and respect of those advised and of the community served.

The following principles are advanced by MMLA as guideposts in the practice of municipal law, serving to guide members in honoring client commitments while at the same time advancing the profession of municipal law:

1. Members will conduct themselves in a manner that avoids the appearance that legal advice is based solely upon political alignment or partisanship, because such advice undermines public trust. When asked for advice, members will give candid and balanced legal advice based upon principles of law. In rendering advice, members may refer not only to the law but to other considerations, such as moral, economic, social and political factors that may be relevant to the client’s situation. However, members should not be deterred from giving candid advice by the prospect that the advice may be unpalatable to the client.

2. Members will stay current in the law, including annual participation in no less than 10 hours of continuing education programs.

3. Members will encourage and contribute to understanding of municipal government functions and operations by both local officials and the public.

4. Members will conduct themselves in a manner that advances professionalism in municipal law practice.

5. Members will respect the professional relationships of incumbent city solicitors and town counsels with their municipal clients; members will not directly solicit municipalities, or the officials thereof, that have incumbent city solicitors or town counsels. Direct solicitation does not include responding to Requests for Proposals or other unsolicited inquiries from a potential municipal client about future representation or discussions about employment as “special” or “outside” counsel.

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