Legal Ethics

In celebration of ethical idealism.(Editorial)

Our previous issue examined the impact of economic analysis on professional conduct as one means of explaining current responses to the evolving market for legal services. This issue draws on a range of other disciplinary perspectives, from a variety of jurisdictions, to explore the possibility of creating a more comprehensive and powerful professional ideology capable of both supporting existing and shaping emergent legal values.

Moving beyond the question of whether lawyers should be taught ethics, the focus now is on how to construct a more complete, rounded lawyer competent in and sensitive to matters of ethical and moral, as well as legal, judgment. Historical, educational, sociological and psychological insights are all brought to bear on the socialisation of lawyers. These disciplinary perspectives illuminate the more obvious contexts within which professional values are incubated: the law school and the law firm. But it is important to note that this is not just descriptive sociology or psychology of the kind that seeks to map and explain human conduct within a particular sphere. All of our contributors are concerned, directly or indirectly, with the actual impact--or lack of impact--of legal education on future ethical legal practice. In other words, lessons gleaned from interdisciplinary and international comparisons are used to inform and direct the reform of legal educational practice. We need to be able to understand and apply such lessons if we are to be sure that the law school is in fact a significant site when it comes to the construction of professional ideology and, if not, to know what other influences may determine ethical conduct. …

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