PURPOSE OF THE CENTER
The SCCBA Center for Ethics & Professionalism (“CEP”) is the cornerstone of the SCCBA’s influence on the culture of the Santa Clara County legal community and courts. SCCBA members for decades have had a reputation for the highest standard of professionalism in the practice of law. That reputation has been reinforced by the good relationship between the bench and bar. The purpose of the SCCBA CEP is to encourage attorneys to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct in zealously representing their clients; to provide attorneys with tools and guidelines to achieve that goal through the SCCBA Code of Professionalism (“Code”), access to ethics opinions, and member-to-member ethics discussions; and to recognize SCCBA attorneys who exemplify the standards in the SCCBA Code.
COMPONENTS OF THE CENTER
The SCCBA CEP provides attorneys with tools and guidelines to assist them, their clients, and the courts in understanding the professional obligations and standards required of attorneys and what conduct meets those standards.
In 1992, the SCCBA adopted a Code of Professionalism that sets out professional standards for attorneys practicing in Santa Clara County.
The Code is used in the San Jose Division of the Northern District of California and is part of the Local Rules of the Santa Clara County Superior Court, which adopted the Code in 1992 as a guideline for judges to use for attorneys appearing before them. The State of California has also adopted the SCCBA Code, and the American Bar Association and other legal and judicial entities throughout the nation have cited approvingly to the SCCBA Code as a model for attorney professionalism. For more information on the Code, to access the Code online, and to pledge to the Code, click here.
The SCCBA is actively involved in evaluating and commenting on proposed ethics opinions by the State Bar of California to ensure that SCCBA members’ perspectives are considered before the State Bar finalizes its formal ethics opinions. In this section of the CEP, you will find links to proposed State Bar ethics opinions that the SCCBA Professionalism Committee is reviewing for comment; a link to the State Bar’s formally adopted ethics opinions; and a link to the American Bar Association’s ethics opinions.
The SCCBA Professionalism Committee maintains a blog where ethics- and professionalism-related articles and State Bar calls-for-comment on proposed ethics opinions will be posted. Check the blog for recent activities and information regarding ethics and professionalism.
The SCCBA is considering whether to take requests from SCCBA members to develop local ethic opinions applying the SCCBA Code and/or the State Bar Professional Rules of Conduct.
For more information on Ethics Opinions, click here.
This online forum allows SCCBA members to pose questions about ethics, get input from SCCBA Professionalism Committee members, and participate in general discussions about ethical and professionalism issues. To access the Ethics Forum, click here.
The SCCBA Professionalism Committee oversees all the components of the Center for Ethics & Professionalism. The chair is appointed by the SCCBA President for a one year term. The members are also appointed by the SCCBA President. Interested members may apply to be appointed by completing the Committee Application form. For more information on the Committee and to access the application form, click here.
In 1997, then SCCBA President and now Superior Court Judge, the Honorable Richard Loftus, created and implemented an annual award to be presented to an SCCBA member who exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism in law practice in Santa Clara County. The Award is given each year at the Annual Judges’ Night in the fall. For more information about the award, the award’s criteria and selection process, a list of past awardees, and the nomination form, click here.