State Bar of Texas members vote down proposed amendments to Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

SMU Law Professor Linda Eades talks about Texas lawyers voting against disciplinary rules changes.

The State Bar of Texas has just announced the results of the referendum on the proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Here's what the press release says: "State Bar members voted down the proposed amendments to the rules. Of those licensed attorneys eligible to vote, nearly 44 percent voted."

'Texas lawyers elected not to adopt these rules. We expect that this will not be the end of the Supreme Court’s interest in making revisions to these rules,' said State Bar of Texas President Terry Tottenham.

"It was the culmination of a long process that started in 2003. It was time to put these proposals before the lawyers of Texas," Tottenham said. "The debate was rigorous – from the time the Supreme Court first put the proposed amendments out for comment in October 2009 through today, the final day of voting."  . . .

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law Professor Linda Eads, who is a strong proponent of the rule changes, believes the referendum’s defeat was the result of bad information that went out to lawyers “and the truth never caught up with it.”

She says the result of the referendum is that Texas will be stuck with some inadequate disciplinary rules.

“One is that we don’t have a sex-with-clients rule,” she says. “We will be one of the few states that doesn’t prohibit having sex directly with clients.” Eads also believes some lawyers voted against the rules because they don’t like the Texas Supreme Court, which promulgates the rules that regulate attorneys.

“One person told me, ‘If these rules go down in defeat it will be a referendum on why we need to throw out the Texas Supreme Court.’ So, a lot of people voted for this as a political agenda as opposed to what are good rules and what are better rules,” she says. “They hate the Texas Supreme Court because plaintiffs lawyers view it as conservative. It’s a shame that better rules won’t get passed but the world will live,” Eads says.

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