Legal Ethics

Ethinomics and the determinants of legal professionalism.(Editorial)

In this issue we are particularly pleased to offer up yet more evidence of the increasingly international dialogue and debate that is taking place around legal ethics, and to focus attention on an important new strand within ethical legal theory and discourse: the economic analysis of professionalism--or "ethinomics"--as one way of exposing and interpreting the underlying determinants of legal behaviour and professional conduct in an increasingly dynamic, competitive and commercially-oriented market for legal services.

The articles in this issue all started life as papers at the First International Conference on Lawyers' Ethics held in Exeter in 2004. (1) We are also including a report in our Forum section of a more recent conference held in Osaka that posed searching questions about the place of ethics in the law curriculum of the future: Can Justice be Taught: Social Responsibility of Legal Professionals and Law School Education. (2) Both conferences concentrated on the more obvious determinants of the quality of professional procedures and practice standards--legal education and regulation--that have become a recurring theme in these editorials. And the current reform of vocational training by the Law Society is again aired in the Ethics in Practice section that, as noted in the editorial to our last issue, is taking place in the shadow of the Clementi review of the UK legal services market. It is therefore timely to ask whether economic theory can help uncover major new insights into what really guides ethical legal action and to assess what are the virtues and limits of economic analysis. If "legal ethics" is often portrayed as an oxymoron is not the concept of "ethinomics" even more of an unsustainable self-contradiction? …

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