Ethics for Consumer and Commercial Laws Attorneys

Consumer and commercial law touches almost everyone on a daily basis--from business people engaged in simple or complex commercial transactions to consumers buying homes, products and services, using credit cards, and borrowing money. Although some of these transactions are heavily regulated, many small businesses and consumers don’t fully comprehend the reach of these laws and regulations and can struggle to navigate their complexity. This can lead to a deep sense of frustration and dissatisfaction by the client which can develop into conflict between the client and the attorney if not dealt with properly. As a result, the ethical landscape for consumer and commercial law attorneys can be especially challenging.

1. History/Background

Request Update

Consumer and commercial law has seen much of its development in the last three or four decades. Prior to World War II, the incurring of debt (and debt financing) was viewed as a stigma (i.e., if a person was not able to pay cash, then borrowing money was frowned upon and the transaction was not affordable). After World War II, pent-up public demand, due to privation from the Great Depression and then war-time rationing, led to enhanced desire for consumer products. The release of this pent-up demand caused a great acceleration in the U.S. economy, leading to a rise in entrepreneurship, consumer acquisitiveness, and a dramatic increase in consumer and commercial transactions. The widespread use of credit cards, in particular, led to the acceptance of temporary - and not so temporary - debt as a means to acquire goods and services.