The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct govern the issue of the grounds upon which lawyers admitted to practice in Texas may receive professional discipline such as censures, suspension from practice, or disbarment. The appropriate severity of professional discipline for particular kinds of conduct is largely a matter of case law and separate law provides for the procedural framework for administering the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Rules themselves specifically disavow the task of decided what kind if professional discipline is appropriate for any particular kind of conduct of an attorney.
Personal ethics and behavior are governed primarily by rules 8.02 (defamatory speech about judges and other legal officials), and 8.04 (various kinds of misconduct including personal misconduct), although there are some stray bits that can come up in connection with other rules.
Rule 1.08 involves improper conduct in transactions with clients that do not pertain to the matter in which the client is represented (e.g. unfair business deals with clients). Texas is among a minority of states that does not automatically treat having sex with client that commences only after the attorney-client relationship is formed as a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Rule 8.04 is sometimes called the "officer and a gentleman" clause of attorney professional ethics after an analogous provision, Article 113, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that applies to members of the United States armed forces. It is a residual misconduct provision that covers lots of misconduct in a lawyer's personal affairs that isn't otherwise regulated by the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Rule 8,04 and its official comments are as follows:
Rule 8.04. Misconduct
(a) A lawyer shall not:
(1) violate these rules, knowingly assist or induce another to do so,
or do so through the acts of another, whether or not the violation
occurred in the course of a client-lawyer relationship;
(2) commit a serious crime or commit any other criminal act that
reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness
as a lawyer in other respects;
(3) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
(4) engage in conduct constituting obstruction of justice;
(5) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government
agency or official;
(6) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a
violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law;
(7) violate any disciplinary or disability order or judgment;
(8) fail to timely furnish to the Chief Disciplinary Counsels office
or a district grievance committee a response or other information as
required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, unless he or
she in good faith timely asserts a privilege or other legal ground for
failure to do so;
(9) engage in conduct that constitutes barratry as defined by the law
of this state;
(10) fail to comply with section 13.01 of the Texas Rules of
Disciplinary Procedure relating to notification of an attorneys
cessation of practice;
(11) engage in the practice of law when the lawyer is on inactive
status, except as permitted by section 81.053 of the Government Code
and Article XIII of the State Bar Rules, or when the lawyers right to
practice has been suspended or terminated, including, but not limited
to, situations where a lawyer’s right to practice has been
administratively suspended for failure to timely pay required fees or
assessments or for failure to comply with Article XII of the State Bar
Rules relating to Mandatory Continuing Legal Education; or
(12) violate any other laws of this state relating to the professional
conduct of lawyers and to the practice of law.
(b) As used in subsection (a)(2) of this Rule, “serious crime” means
barratry; any felony involving moral turpitude; any misdemeanor
involving theft, embezzlement, or fraudulent or reckless
misappropriation of money or other property; or any attempt,
conspiracy, or solicitation of another to commit any of the foregoing
There are four principal sources of professional obligations for lawyers in Texas: these rules, the State Bar Act, the State Bar Rules,
and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (TRDP). All lawyers are
presumed to know the requirements of these sources. Rule 8.04(a)(1)
provides a partial list of conduct that will subject a lawyer to
Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such
implication. Traditionally in this state, the distinction has been
drawn in terms of those crimes subjecting a lawyer to compulsory
discipline, criminal acts relevant to a lawyer’s fitness for the
practice of law, and other offenses. Crimes subject to compulsory
discipline are governed by TRDP, Part VIII. In addition, although a
lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer
should be professionally answerable only for criminal acts that
indicate a lack of those characteristics relevant to the lawyer’s
fitness for the practice of law. A pattern of repeated criminal acts,
even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can
indicate indifference to legal obligations that legitimately could
call a lawyer’s overall fitness to practice into question. See TRDP,
Part VIII; Rule 8.04(a)(2).
A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief, openly asserted, that no valid obligation
exists. The provisions of Rule 1.02(c) concerning a good faith
challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law
apply to challenges to legal regulation of the practice of law.
Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer’s abuse of public office can
suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The
same is true of abuse of positions of private trust.
With respect to the portion of the question asking:
What personal kinds of personal misconduct might result in such
Some of the most serious violations of the rules that are likely to lead to disbarment include misappropriation of client property, abandonment of a legal practice with active clients, revealing highly prejudicial client confidences with no color of justification for doing so, committing a crime involving fraud or a felony, or failure to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation.
Of those, committing of a crime involving fraud or a felony would be the one most likely to result in disbarment that involves personal conduct, as opposed to professional conduct. Other kinds of personal conduct might result in a lesser sanction, however, as noted in Rule 8.4. Of course, it isn't all that hard to imagine some circumstance "involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" (think "George Santos" absent any criminal conduct) that isn't strictly speaking a crime, or "conduct constituting obstruction of justice" in a matter unrelated to client matters (e.g. obstructing an investigation of a family member of the lawyer in connection with an academic institution's investigation) that could rise to this level as well.
But, again, the matching of punishment to particular conduct is rooted in case law. Also, a pattern of various kinds of misconduct or repeat offenses are often treatment more seriously than a single instance of misconduct by a first offender would be in isolation.
Incidentally, every U.S. jurisdiction has a set of Rules of Professional Conduct with the same numbering system, although the substantive content of different states' rules with the same number is not always the same.
So, for example, Rule 8.4 covers the same subject-matter in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and every other U.S. territory, even though there may be important substantive differences between the versions of Rule 8.4 adopted in different states.