On July 12, 1989, the Kentucky Supreme Court adopted its own version of the American Bar Association's 1983 Model Rules of Professional Conduct as the body of disciplinary law applicable to lawyers practicing in the state. These new rules constitute a major improvement in the state's law of legal ethics. Their adoption should be considered a victory for Kentucky lawyers and, more importantly, a victory for the people of the state, the ultimate beneficiaries of the regulation of the legal profession.
As with most victories, the adoption of the new rules was not unequivocally positive. Kentucky's version of the Model Rules deviates in several substantial and detracting ways from the ABA's version. Worse, the Kentucky court deleted certain duties of lawyers that for the better part of this century have been widely accepted as fundamental components of legal ethics.
The new Kentucky rules take a large step forward in improving the law regulating lawyers in the state. At the same time, they take several significant steps backward. While the adoption of the new rules should be applauded, their shortcomings need to be remedied.
Eugene R. Gaetke, Kentucky's New Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers, 78 Ky. L.J. 767 (1990).