In 1983, after six years of drafting and lively debate, the American Bar Association adopted the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as its most recent statement of the ethical norms of the legal profession. Shortly thereafter the ABA forwarded the rules to the states for consideration and possible adoption as binding ethical principles. As of this writing, a number of states have adopted the Model Rules, in full or in substantial form, and several more have proposals for such adoption pending before their supreme courts
The Kentucky Supreme Court presently awaits the state bar association's recommendation regarding the Model Rules' adoption. Meanwhile, the currently applicable body of law regarding legal ethics in Kentucky is the ABA's earlier statement of professional norms, the Code of Professional Responsibility. The issues that the state bar association currently faces and that the Kentucky Supreme Court ultimately must decide are whether the present Code warrants revision or abandonment and, if the latter, whether the Model Rules or some variant of them should be the replacement. It is, therefore, an opportune time to assess what is to be gained by adopting the Model Rules and what is to be lost in failing to do so. This Article attempts that assessment. The Author believes that the adoption of the Model Rules in Kentucky is critical. Those rules constitute a considerable substantive improvement over the Code. Furthermore, certain peculiarities of the regulation of professional conduct in Kentucky cause the people and lawyers of the state to stand to benefit more than those of most other states by the adoption of the Model Rules. In fact, the Author believes that the Model Rules' adoption in Kentucky would constitute one large step in a much needed reform of the state's present lawyer disciplinary process.
Eugene R. Gaetke, Why Kentucky Should Adopt the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 74 Ky. L.J. 581 (1986).