Legal Ethics

Turning the kaleidoscope: new visions of lawyers' work.(Editorial)(Editorial)

How can we best understand and promote integrity, a constant value, within the ever-changing context of legal work? Should lawyers, educators and regulators tilt their kaleidoscopes toward the sciences or the humanities in order to grasp the meaning of good lawyering? All of our present contributors are concerned with this basic problem of defining and refining moral standards within legal practice. Two of our lead articles were first presented as papers to the Second International Conference on Lawyers' Ethics held in Auckland in June 2006 while all three, in different ways, shake up established views and offer colourful new perspectives on what constitutes and supports ethical legal practice. (1)

Our first article, by Ho, points out that the concept of legal professional privilege is multidimensional and that, depending on whether one's viewpoint is that of the lawyer or client, the concept can be seen as a duty, a power or a right. Ho argues that we have rather lost the plot with this basic principle of major importance to the administration of justice and that the best way to approach the concept is in terms of "the lawyer's exemption from compulsory disclosure". Tracing the historical evolution of the concept, he notes that within the common law world privilege has both expanded and increasingly assumed an elevated, if not exaggerated, status such that today it has virtually become an absolute and fundamental right that unfairly supports the economic self-interest of lawyers. In order to have a better balanced view of the concept Ho argues for its more limited application, suggesting that it be confined to lawyer-client communications made within the context of representation in the legal process. …

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