As to the future, McPherson referenced the cab rank rule
, whereby barristers are required to accept, if their diary is free and the fee appropriate, any case they are asked to that meets their code of conduct.
36) The fact that Australian lawyers routinely take on these sorts of cases may be a reflection of the ascendancy of the cab rank rule in Australian lawyers' ethics, but it might also reflect something deeper: an institutional ethos rather than a formal requirement.
This project was partially inspired by my curiosity about the impact of the cab rank rule on Australian lawyers, and how such a rule might operate in the US.
One barrister who works as a public defender tipped her hat to the cab rank rule, but said her commitment to representing the unpopular went beyond such a rule:
The cab rank rule coincides with my own view of [the] professional role, and I have never sought to evade it.
Yet, even among those lawyers who were not bound by the cab rank rule, it was rare for someone to say that they would refuse a case out of distaste, discomfort, or ideology.
Yet another said that if you believe in everyone having a right to a fair trial, you should not refuse cases, whether the cab rank rule applies or not:
Although most of the lawyers interviewed believe in the cab rank rule and felt that it has had a positive impact on Australian legal ethics and their own sense of professionalism, (110) not everyone agreed.
One of the problems is that the cab rank rule is too often seen as a 'theory' or 'principle' and is fairly easy to evade.
Is there a cab rank rule enforced against American lawyers?
In a decision sure to be debated long into the future, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination recently held that a cab rank rule of a peculiar kind prohibited a lawyer from choosing clients on the basis of their gender.