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Legal Ethics, Attorney General, Premier, Cabinet, Maurice Duplessis, Roncarelli v Duplessis, [1959] SCR 121


From time to time, a Premier or Prime Minister appoints themself as Attorney General. In this article, I argue that this dual portfolio is inherently and incurably problematic and should be avoided and indeed prohibited. I do so from the perspective of legal ethics and professionalism. The springboard for my analysis is the conduct of Quebec Premier and Attorney General Maurice Duplessis in the classic case of Roncarelli v Duplessis. While there may well be perceived benefits that tempt Premiers to serve in the dual role, any lawyer who does so unavoidably violates his or her professional obligations. For this reason, I argue that law societies or legislatures, or both, should introduce an explicit prohibition against this dual role.