RULE 3.1 MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS
Ethics & Discipline / Current Rules / Part IV (After January 1 / 2001) - Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (also includes Disciplinary Proceedings and Advisory Opinion rules) / CHAPTER 1 GEORGIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND ENFORCEMENT THEREOF
In the representation of a client, a lawyer shall not:
- file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another;
- knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law, except that the lawyer may advance such claim or defense if it can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is a public reprimand.
 The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client's cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. The law, both procedural and substantive, establishes the limits within which an advocate may proceed. However, the law is not always clear and never is static. Accordingly, in determining the proper scope of advocacy, account must be taken of the law's ambiguities and potential for change.
 The filing of an action or defense or similar action taken for a client is not frivolous merely because the facts have not first been fully substantiated or because the lawyer expects to develop vital evidence only by discovery. Such action is not frivolous even though the lawyer believes that the client's position ultimately will not prevail. The action is frivolous, however, if the client desires to have the action taken primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring a person, or, if the lawyer is unable either to make a good faith argument on the merits of the action taken or to support the action taken by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
 It is not ethically improper for a lawyer to file a lawsuit before complete factual support for the claim has been established provided that the lawyer determines that a reasonable lawyer would conclude that there is a reasonable possibility that facts supporting the cause of action can be established after the filing of the claim; and provided further that the lawyer is not required by rules of procedure. or otherwise to represent that the cause of action has an adequate factual basis. If after filing it is discovered that the lawsuit has no merit, the lawyer will dismiss the lawsuit or in the alternative withdraw.
 The decision of a court that a claim is not meritorious is not necessarily conclusive of a violation of this Rule.
GO TO RULE 2.4 LAWYER SERVING AS THIRD PARTY NEUTRAL
GO TO RULE 3.2 EXPEDITING LITIGATION
Return to handbook browser.