Wikipedia defines ethics as: A branch of philosophy that involves systemizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Alabama citizens in general, and the Alabama legal community in particular, can take pride in the fundamental role Alabama played in the development of modern-day codes of ethics across many disciplines.
Thomas Goode Jones, a nineteenth century railroad builder, lawyer, politician and Civil War hero, wrote our nation’s first code of legal ethics, which was adopted by the Alabama State Bar Association in 1887 and the American Bar Association in 1908. Every state bar association in the nation has now followed suit with a Code of Professional Conduct based on Jones’ original work. Jones went on to become Governor of Alabama in 1890, and his name lives on at the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Alabama.
As drafted and revised throughout the last 150 years, ethics rules expand on the foundational and timeless Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The rules, through prescription and proscription, provide for truthfulness, honesty, integrity, fair treatment of colleagues, adversaries and clients alike, and respectful decorum toward the institutions of government and society at large.