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While the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional conduct are certainly admirable guidelines, do they actually define a standard of conduct that lawyers must meet? Surprisingly, the answer is probably “no.” While failure to follow these guidelines may coincide or overlap with conduct supporting a legal malpractice claim, the mere violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional conduct cannot, by itself, support a cause of action.
Specifically, paragraph 15 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules states that the disciplinary rules do not create a private right of action or presumption of breach of a legal duty. Tex. Disc. R. Prof. Conduct, Preamble, ¶ 15 (“Violation of a rule does not give rise to a private cause of action nor does it create any presumption that a legal duty to a client has been breached.”). As the disciplinary rules obviate a private right of action for their violation, claims based solely on their violation will likely fail. Id.; National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex. 1997).
If you have potential claims against a lawyer or other professional, the malpractice attorneys at Powers Taylor can help you determine the appropriate claims to bring against the professional who committed the wrong.