Thomas F. Maffei quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on SJC’s new conduct rules emphasis on civility

July 27, 2022

Thomas F. Maffei, Of Counsel in the firm’s Litigation Department, was quoted in the July 25th issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The article, “SJC’s new conduct rules continue emphasis on civility” discusses the latest revisions to the Rules of Professional Conduct to reflect the Supreme Judicial Court’s continuing emphasis on civility, while also providing new directives on managerial responsibilities.

Read the full article from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscriber content).

From the article:

Boston professional liability attorney Thomas F. Maffei says the SJC is “sending a message” with its latest rule changes.

“It’s clearly a statement by the court that the use of ‘abusive’ tactics, whether in court or outside of court, directed at any participant in the process, is on thin ice and could likely involve your law license if you carry it to an extreme,” Maffei says. “That comes through loud and clear.”

According to Maffei, the court’s emphasis on civility to a certain extent constitutes a solution to overly aggressive attorneys who maintain they are only engaging in zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients.

“What these amendments make very clear is that there are limits to the duty of zealous advocacy,” Maffei says. “There are obligations to the client, obviously, but these rules make clear the lawyer’s obligations go beyond the client.”

Maffei reads the comment to the rule as imposing a duty on attorneys who have supervisory or managerial authority to “be on the alert” for lawyers working in the firm who, for mental or other reasons, are not meeting their obligations in representing clients or respecting the rights of others.

“These changes in the Massachusetts rules place those lawyers in harm’s way in terms of the bar discipline process,” Maffei says.