In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of McCoy v. Louisiana, holding that defendants have a constitutional right to maintain their innocence at trial. Under McCoy, lawyers may not concede their clients’ guilt during trial when their clients insist on maintaining innocence, even if doing so would be a reasonable tactical decision. In this paper, we show how the case implicates an array of common problems concerning lawyer-client disagreement, and we argue that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct offer deficient guidance in this area. In particular, in relying on lawyer withdrawal as a remedy for lawyer-client disagreement, the Model Rules neglect to recognize that lawyers may have an obligation to stick with their clients despite serious disagreements over aspects of the representation. The Rules also gloss over the considerable administrative burden associated with withdrawal. After delineating some problems with the Model Rules’ approach to lawyer-client disagreement, we propose a set of revisions to the Model Rules that address the ethical and practical concerns we elaborate.

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