Book

Professional Legal Ethics

Donald Nicolson and Julian Webb

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198764717
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191695261 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198764717.001.0001
Professional Legal Ethics

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Ethics and regulation have become catchwords of the late 1990s, yet relatively little has been written about the ethical discourse and regulation of the legal professions in England and Wales. This book represents the first attempt to subject the ethical discourse of the English legal professions to in-depth analysis and sustained critique. Drawing on insights from moral philosophy, social theory, the sociology of the legal profession, public law theories of regulation, and the extensive American literature on lawyers' ethics, it argues that, in seeking to provide definitive answers to particular problems of professional conduct, professional legal ethics has failed to deliver an approach which requires lawyers actively to engage with the ethical issues raised by legal practice. Through an analysis of the core issues facing lawyers, the authors locate this failure in the profession's reliance on a liberal and adversarial role morality that conceptualises the ethical values of human dignity, autonomy and equality in a formalistic and narrowly legalistic manner. This encourages lawyers to overlook the real invasions of these values so often wrought by upholding clients legal rights, and to ignore the competing claims of affected third parties, the wider community and the environment. In seeking to move beyond critique, the authors develop throughout the book a contextual approach to individual ethical decision-making and outline a range of institutional, regulatory and educational reforms which, they suggest, could form the basis for a more ethical brand of professionalism.

Keywords: ethics; regulation; moral philosophy; social theory; legal ethics; public law; professionalism; human dignity; autonomy; equality

Book.  342 pages. 

Subjects: Legal System and Practice

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Professional Legal Ethics

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Justifying Neutral Partisanship in Professional Legal Ethics

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Reforming the Lawyer's Amoral Role in Professional Legal Ethics

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Confidentiality in Professional Legal Ethics

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