A Critical Morality for Lawyers: Four Approaches to Lawyers' Ethics
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 08:22 by Christine Parker
Drawing on the scholarship of legal ethicists and case studies of Australian legal practice, this article proposes a set of conceptual tools for assessing the ethics-in-practice and moral judgment of Australian lawyers. The article proposes that different approaches to legal ethical reasoning can be distinguished by the ways they answer the following questions: (1) to what extent should lawyers' ethics be determined by a special and particular social role that lawyers should play? (2) how should lawyer and client relate to one another in relation to ethical issues? Should one's view of morality prevail over the other? (3) what is the lawyer's obligation towards law and justice? (4) to what extent should lawyers in their daily work make sure they care for people and relationships? On this basis I identify four broad approaches to ethical reasoning in legal practice: adversarial advocate; responsible lawyer; moral activism; and ethics of care. A fifth approach, based solely on the law of professional responsibility and rules of professional conduct, is discussed and dismissed as an invalid ethical approach.