George Zimmerman, Jerry Sandusky, and the Ethics of Counsel's Use of the Media

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The media is both a tool and a temptress for the modern lawyer. With interest in trials increasing, particularly criminal trials, lawyers are frequently invited to become part of the media’s coverage. The media provides lawyers an opportunity to tell their clients’ stories, but it also brings a type of fame to the attorney, which may bias the lawyer’s view of the wisdom of the coverage. The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) have long recognized that a lawyer’s interest in the literary and media rights to the client’s story potentially compromises the client’s representation. This essay argues that the same concerns apply to immediate national media attention and proposes an extension of the Model Rule’s conflict-of-interest provisions to an attorney’s participation in high-profile coverage of a client’s case.