Most discussions of the ethical problems confronting an attorney for the government refer primarily to the more obvious situations involving a potential conflict of interest, such as the offer of some substantial benefit from a private party having business with the government and seeking the aid or good will of the attorney. To be sure, these problems exist and should not be minimized. There are, however, problems with subtler over- tones (although they may involve substantially the same interests) which present ethical difficulties and which cannot be resolved neatly by reference to existing canons of ethics. Although it is not suggested that the government lawyer is in the position of a monopolizer as to the difficulties, real or imagined, discussed herein, he may be peculiarly vulnerable to some of them. He owes an obvious duty to serve the public interest; he often performs or fails to perform in public fashion; the nature of his responsibilities makes his performance a matter of public and political concern, and, certainly, concern on the part of economic interests affected thereby.
James W. Payne Jr.,
Ethical Problems of Government Lawyers,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol2/iss3/5