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"Lawyer White Lies: Just Part of the Job?"

Rule 4.1 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct ("Truthfulness in Statements to Others") laconically states the bottom line this way: "In the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a third person."

Bear in mind, and maybe rightly so, that rule doesn't ask attorneys to be more honest than "the next guy" in the rest of human endeavors, even if they tangentially impact our being attorneys. No, it appears, we are proscribed by that rule only from making a false statement in "representing a client." However, Rule 8.4 separately, generically and more broadly, proscribes "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation," which might seem to implicate dishonesty in one's private life too. Indeed, Comment [1] to Rule 4.1 refers the rules' reader to Rule 8.4 for "dishonest conduct that does not amount to a false statement or for misrepresentations by a lawyer other than in the course of representing a client." So, maybe, we need to be more honest than the next guy, right?

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