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Title: Ethics of the Legal Profession in Palestine
Authors: Qafisheh, Mutaz
Keywords: Law Profession, Ethics, Lawyering, Palestine Bar Association, Code of Legal Ethics
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Fordham International Law Journal, University of Fordham, New York
Citation: Mutaz Qafisheh, ‘Ethics of the Legal Profession in Palestine’, Fordham International Law Journal, University of Fordham, New York, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2018, 553-586.
Abstract: On 3 April 2016, the Council of Palestinian Bar Association (PBA) adopted the long-awaited ‘Legal Profession Code of Ethics’. This Code came after a century of legal profession’s practice in Palestine. Throughout the past century, there have been a set of ethical standards observed by Palestinian lawyers, based on legal profession general statutes or following the commonsense traditions practiced by the authorities that administrated the profession. However, the Code is the first comprehensive codification of the legal profession’s ethics in the history of Palestine and, indeed, the Code’s adoption can be considered as a breakthrough. The Code deals with the lawyer’s behaviors under three headings: one relates to the honor of the profession, the second pertains to the lawyer-client relationship, the third deals with the lawyer’s interaction with fellow lawyers and, finally, lawyer’s behavior towards the judiciary. Yet certain ethical standards are derived from the general the current Advocates Law that regulates the legal profession as well as from statutes inherited from previous periods in Palestine. While the current 1999 Palestinian Advocates Law sets out the disciplinary measures that can be initiated against lawyers who commit unethical conducts, and notwithstanding that the PBA is increasingly taking the lawyers misconducts more seriously; the legal ethics still need time to take a firm root in the legal education and training, profession’s traditions, and the Bar’s policies and actions. The Code puts the Palestinian lawyers, as the case of fellow lawyers in modern countries, on the right track when it comes to professional responsibility. That might, in turn, generate faith in the future of the legal profession in such a challenging context. This paper will rely on the applicable law in Palestine as well as on the practice by interviewing practicing lawyers, oral history, Palestinian bar reports and materials, court judgments and decisions of the disciplinary council that investigates and punishes lawyers who commit misconducts. Theoretical and comparative literature will be consulted as needed. The paper will explore and analyze the substantive provisions of the aforesaid Code of Ethics and the disciplinary measures applied by the PBA against lawyers who breach the ethical standards.
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