If you are a lawyer, you have invested a lot of time, money, and effort into achieving that goal. Remember all those people who washed out of law school during the first year? Maybe you didn’t personally know anyone like that, but statistically, there are a significant number of people who cannot make it through law school. Making it though law school and passing the bar are major accomplishments, and you should be proud of yourself for achieving these goals.
Think of your status as a lawyer as a major investment, because it really is, given how much time, money and effort you have put into becoming a lawyer. The most precious commodity you have as a lawyer is your good reputation, and as such, you should always be cognizant of the need to protect it. Sometimes you need to protect it from yourself, and sometimes from others.
There may be times when a client, or possibly even a partner, will ask you to do something that doesn’t seem ethical or right. If something seems to be wrong, it quite possibly could be an ethical violation. If you are at all unsure, check the Rules of Ethics. If you are still unsure, you can always put a call into your local bar association and pass a “hypothetical” by them and see what they say. No client is worth compromising your ethics for or tarnishing your reputation.
Likewise, you might be tempted to hide or “misplace” evidence that you are required to disclose to the opposing party. The rules regarding this are especially strict for prosecutors, but civil attorneys also have a duty to disclose certain evidence. You can play the litigation game and work as hard as you can to not disclose anything in discovery. But there comes a time that to not disclose something is to outright conceal it so it does not hurt your case. That is wrong and will ultimately result in sanctions against you and degrade your reputation. Don’t do it. Advocate forcefully for your client, but do so within the rules of the the legal system, thereby protecting your hard earned reputation.