Saint Alphonsus Liguori, at the age of 20, was at the height of his career as a lawyer, having not lost a single case in Naples, Italy, in the early eighteenth century. Known for his ethical conduct, he defended only those he deemed fair.
Concerned about the malice and lies surrounding his professional colleagues, before giving up his career and being ordained a priest, St. Alphonsus wrote a list of ethical conduct that can be applied to this day. It has become a fair and honourable decalogue for lawyers.
- It is not lawful to ever accept unjust cases, because they are harmful to conscience and decorum.
- No case shall be defended by unlawful means.
- The client should not be aggravated with excessive expenses, and there is an obligation to reimburse.
- The cases of clients must be treated with that dedication with which they treat their own causes.
- It is necessary to study the processes in order to get the precise arguments for the defence of the case.
- Often, the dilation (postponement) and the induria (negligence) of the lawyers harm the clients and the damages must be repaired; otherwise you sin against justice.
- The lawyer must beg God for help from the defense, because God is the first protector of justice.
- A lawyer who accepts many cases, superior to his talents, his strengths, and the time he will often lack in order to prepare for defense, is not to be commended.
- Justice and honesty should never be separated from a lawyer; on the contrary, they should always be kept as they are to pupils of eyes.
- A lawyer who loses a case for his negligence is obliged to repair the damages.