Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation

Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation

Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation

Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation

Synopsis

Lawyers' ethics have been condemned for centuries, but they received little scholarly scrutiny until the last few decades. Ethics in Practice brings together leading experts in the emerging field of legal ethics to discuss the central dilemmas of practicing law. This collection cuts across conventional disciplinary boundaries to address the roles, responsibilities, and regulation of contemporary lawyers. Contributors address common concerns from diverse perspectives, including philosophy, psychology, economics, political science, and organizational behavior. Topics include the nature of professions, the structure of practice, the constraints of an adversarial system, the attorney-client relationship, the practical value of moral theory, the role of race and gender, and the public service responsibilities of lawyers and law students. Unique in both its breadth and its depth, this book redefines debates that are of enduring significance for both the profession and the public.

Excerpt

Lawyers' ethics have been condemned for centuries, but only in the last few decades have they been the subject of significant education and research. Ethics in Practice brings together leaders of this emerging field to explore longstanding problems of professonalism. Those problems are a matter of public as well as professional concern. Attorneys play a central role in the structure of legal, economic, and political institutions. The principles that guide professional practice have crucial social consequences.

Those principles are the subject of the essays that follow. The contributors to this volume bring diverse perspectives but share common concerns. They come from different disciplinary backgrounds and draw on varied frameworks in addition to law, including philosophy, psychology, economics, sociology, history, political science, management, and organizational behavior. Yet these authors also are united in their conviction that lawyers have public obligations that have not been adequately institutionalized in practice. Despite a growing cottage industry of commissions, conferences, and committees on professionalism, many dilemmas of professional responsibility remain unsolved. This collection provides a better understanding of what stands in the way. In the process, it identifies strategies that may narrow the gap between the ideals and institutions of legal practice.

To that end, the volume begins with an overview of the central ethical challenges facing the profession. "Ethics in Practice" explores the complex relationships between incentives, institutions, and ideologies that give rise to problems of professionalism. Its focus includes the economic and organizational structures of practice, the constraints of an adversarial system, the social context of workplace inequalities, and the limitations of ethical rules and enforcement strategies. Unless the bar becomes more willing to address the underlying forces that erode profes-

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