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The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform announced a proposed code of conduct for state attorneys general, including principles for using outside attorneys and public announcements. U.S. attorneys, local district attorneys, and lawyers at various regulatory agencies have more specific policies for conducting investigations and litigation, according to institute president Lisa Rickard. Rickard spoke about the voluntary code of conduct at the Chamber’s 8th Annual Legal Reform Summit on Oct. 24. Rickard said “improper and prejudicial practices” by AGs include: hiring plaintiffs’ attorneys who donated to their campaigns, frequently on a no-bid contingency fee basis; using settlement funds as a “political slush fund”; “trying cases by press conference instead of in the courtroom”; and threatening businesses with criminal prosecution to gain civil settlements. “Some state AGs are increasingly using civil litigation to reap power, publicity and political advantage,” Rickard said. “So it is critical that they hold themselves to the highest ethical standards akin to those applicable to federal and state regulators and other government prosecutors.”

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