Reaffirmation of the Association's Commitment to the Right of Attorneys to Represent Unpopular Clients

WHEREAS, Philadelphia lawyers have a proud history of zealous representation of politically unpopular clients dating to before the American Revolution, when Andrew Hamilton defended John Peter Zenger against charges of seditious libel;

WHEREAS, the right to representation is a fundamental tenet of the American legal system;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the importance of all attorneys providing pro bono legal services, which is a professional responsibility set forth in Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct (“RPC”) 6.1,“Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service”;

WHEREAS, Comment [1] to RPC 6.2 further provides that “[a]n individual lawyer fulfills this responsibility by accepting a fair share of unpopular matters or indigent or unpopular clients;”

WHEREAS, RPC 1.2(b) further clarifies that “[a] lawyer’s representation of a client,including representation by appointment,does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities;”

WHEREAS, in a resolution dated July 28 2005, the Philadelphia Bar recognized that "in the finest traditions of the pro bono publico representation, senior members of the bar in Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C. and many other cities in the United States and are representing individuals detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. . .in an effort to ensure that their minimum due process and human rights are protected;"

WHEREAS, on January 11, 2007, Charles D. Stimson, a United States deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, publicly named at least twelve law firms, including Philadelphia law firms, which are providing pro bono representation to detainees, questioned the motivation for such representation, and suggested that corporate clients reconsider continuing to retain such law firms for legal representation on their business matters;

WHEREAS, Secretary Stimson’s unwarranted remarks, and subsequent national media commentary which reinforced the tenor of his remarks, were contrary to the fundamental principles of our system of justice;

WHEREAS, Secretary Stimson has subsequently issued an apology regarding his remarks;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls upon the President, the Attorney General and all other members of the Executive Branch to take action, both in words and deeds, to support the representation by attorneys of unpopular matters and unpopular clients.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Chancellor is authorized to take whatever steps are deemed necessary to communicate the views of the Philadelphia Bar Association regarding the value and necessity of attorneys performing pro bono legal services to preserve the integrity and independence of the judicial system to the President, elected officials, and the public-at-large, and to otherwise effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: JANUARY 23, 2007