The public expects and deserves the highest level of professional conduct from the government lawyers who represent their interests. Government attorneys are subject to professional rules that govern all attorneys, as well as constitutional, statutory, and regulatory requirements that protect the public’s trust.

Government attorneys are, like all lawyers, required to follow the rules of professional conduct of the states where they are licensed. Those rules are patterned after the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and violations of them can result in penalties ranging from a confidential admonishment to disbarment. The rules of professional conduct include specific requirements for prosecutors, and acknowledge government lawyers’ unique constitutional and statutory obligations.

Government attorneys are also generally covered by statutes and regulations that are designed to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. Those laws typically address areas including:

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Financial disclosures
  • Gift restrictions
  • Lobbying

Violations of these laws may result in adverse employment action, including termination, as well as—in some instances—criminal charges, particularly when these ethical safeguards are intentionally circumvented or flouted.

For more information about violations of the public trust, visit the NAGTRI Center for Ethics and Public Integrity.

Courses and Trainings

Policy Letters

  • Anticorruption
  • Ethics

Attorneys General Urge Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies

As our States’ chief legal officers, we are concerned about the use of American financial institutions for money laundering by terrorist groups and other criminal enterprises.

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