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Lawyers' Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justice: A Critical Reader

EDITED BY Susan D. Carle
FOREWORD BY Robert W. Gordon
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 425
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  • Book Info
    Lawyers' Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justice
    Book Description:

    Legal ethics should be far more than a set of rules on professional responsibility; they can serve as a means for changing power relations, empowering the disenfranchised, and advocating progressive social change.Lawyers' Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justicebroadens the discussion on legal ethics by first introducing the historical and theoretical background and then connecting it to real world issues while addressing lawyers' ethical obligations to work for social justice.

    The reader features differing critical approaches and opens up new avenues of ethical debate. While the literature included is diverse and interdisciplinary, it shares a vision of legal ethical inquiry as a means for changing power relations, empowering the disenfranchised, and advocating progressive social change. Through a combination of provocative selections, lively writing, concrete examples of cases and social movements, and incisive editorial commentary,Lawyers 'Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justicedefines the emergence of an exciting new field of critical legal ethics scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-7937-3
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Robert W. Gordon

    Publication of this thoughtfully assembled reader on lawyers’ ethics is a significant event. Susan Carle has a discriminating eye. She gathers here the harvest of some of the best and freshest research and debate on lawyers’ ethics and the role of lawyers in society. The collection makes available to law teachers and their students and to practicing lawyers and their apprentices a sophisticated guide to ethical reflection and decision-making. These essays don’t pretend to give clear answers to the hardest questions lawyers face in practice. Indeed, because they disagree on so many issues, they make clear that there are no...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In philosopher and legal ethicist David Luban’s 1983 reader,The Good Lawyer(unfortunately now out of print), one contributor noted that the study of ethics is, most basically, the study of how to be a “good X.”¹ Thus, the study of legal ethics is nothing more or less than the study of how to be agood lawyer.Yet this phrase can have many connotations. Many law students believe that being agoodlawyer involves having excellent skills and preparation and bringing these to bear aggressively on behalf of clients. Note, however, that this conception contains not merely a view...

  5. PART A: Theory and History
    • Chapter 1 Theories of Professional Regulation
      (pp. 13-45)
      Richard L. Abel, Terence C. Halliday, David B.Wilkins and Lucie E. White

      This chapter considers several different theoretical perspectives on the legal profession’s efforts to establish ethical rules for law practice. Observers of these ethics regulation projects often use theory to organize and prioritize the information they collect. Even when writers do not make their theoretical commitments explicit, the lenses they look through in describing the world of legal ethics regulation are often profoundly shaped by theory. Interdisciplinary cross-fertilization has led legal scholars to borrow from many fields, including political science, economics, anthropology, and social theory. The student perusing these selections will thus observe writers on the legal profession referring often to...

    • Chapter 2 Historical Perspectives
      (pp. 46-103)
      Russell G. Pearce, Norman W. Spaulding, Robert W. Gordon, Clyde Spillenger, Jerold S. Auerbach, Virginia G. Drachman, Kenneth W. Mack and Carrie Menkel-Meadow

      This chapter looks at the historical development of lawyers’ ethical rules and values, an area in which a great deal of exciting new scholarship is underway. We return, this time from a historical perspective, to some of the questions explored in chapter 1, where we examined contrasting theoretical approaches to the study of lawyers’ professional regulation. These questions include: Are the lawyers who promulgate legal ethics rules motivated by other-regarding motives, such as protecting clients and the proper working of the legal system, or by self-regarding motives, such as protecting a professional monopoly? How should we understand the role of...

    • Chapter 3 Historical Case Studies
      (pp. 104-142)
      J. Clay Smith Jr., Susan D. Carle, Genna Rae MacNeil, Derrick A. Bell Jr., Gary Bellow and Jeanne Kettleson

      This chapter presents two historical case studies to further explore how American lawyers’ ethical self-conceptions came to encompass particular understandings of law practice as an important avenue for fighting social injustice. The first case study involves the history of the NAACP. The second looks at the strategic and ethical challenges of the poverty law movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This movement is interesting in its own right, and also deserves examination because it was the direct precursor to the clinical legal education movement. As we shall see in chapter 4 , that movement has spawned some of the most...

  6. PART B: Contemporary Critical Approaches
    • Chapter 4 Clinical Approaches
      (pp. 145-223)
      Robert D. Dinerstein, Lucie E. White, Binny Miller, Michelle S. Jacobs, Gerald P. López, Cristine Zuni Cruz and Victor M. Hwang

      In chapter 3, we observed the tension between the attorney’s duty of zealous representation of her client and her duty to the public interest. We watched this tension play out in the development of one important model for public interest law practice in the United States. That model, developed by the NAACP and used again by lawyers involved in the poverty law movement of the 1960s and 1970s, seeks to develop and litigate test cases—or cases with the most public impact potential—as a way of having the most “bang for the buck,” so to speak, given public interest...

    • Chapter 5 Critical Theories
      (pp. 224-305)
      William H. Simon, Angela J. Davis, Bill Ong Hing, Anthony V. Alfieri, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Angela P. Harris, Lani Guinier and Phyllis Goldfarb

      This chapter examines the development of several different lines of critical theory in legal ethics scholarship. First, we will read two representative pieces from the critical legal studies (CLS) movement, which had its apex in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The CLS movement was led primarily by left-leaning law professors angry about the placid, noncritical approaches of mainstream law schools in the face of upheavals such as the Vietnam War and Watergate.¹ Many CLS scholars concentrated on doctrinal subjects, but a few focused on legal practice and legal ethics. Indeed, quite a few CLS leaders either had prior experience...

    • Chapter 6 Legal Ethics Exploration through Literature, Myth, and Popular Culture
      (pp. 306-326)

      In chapter 5 we noted some examples of feminist theorists drawing on literary classics to develop new visions of feminist ethics. As we explored there, the use of literature in studying lawyers’ ethics can be a way of tapping into wise and subtle ideas embodied in various historical and cultural traditions, as well as detecting possibilities for creative transformation of those ideas into new visions or practice possibilities. The study of cultural products can also uncover deep-seated stereotypes or tensions in our understandings of lawyers’ roles. In this chapter, we continue an examination of work whose central purpose is to...

    • Chapter 7 Legal Ethics and Religious Commitment
      (pp. 327-350)
      Stephen Carter, Russell G. Pearce and Thomas L. Shaffer

      In this chapter we turn to the growing literature examining the connection between legal ethics and lawyers’ religious commitments. This has been the topic of a number of recent symposia, as described in the Appendix. Here we sample just a few representative perspectives. Stephen Carter’s contribution is an excerpt of remarks delivered at a symposium titled “Rediscovering the Role of Religion in the Lives of Lawyers and Those They Represent.” Carter suggests that lawyers and persons of faith share a stance ofresistanceagainst the dominant culture. Echoing ideas we have encountered before but arriving at them from a different...

    • Chapter 8 Future Challenges: Corporate Power and Lawyers’ Counseling Role
      (pp. 351-384)
      David Luban and Robert W. Gordon

      In this final chapter, we return to the ethical questions raised by lawyers’ roles in counseling powerful corporate entities whose activities can affect both the physical and the financial well-being of large numbers of individuals. The two pieces included here both offer critical perspectives on the current legal ethics approach to corporate counseling. Both authors write in the wake of the collapse of energy giant Enron, Inc., which inflicted enormous financial harm on investors and the general economy. Lawyers were involved in several aspects of Enron’s demise. For example, lawyers for the many law firms Enron used, including Vinson and...

  7. Appendix Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 385-398)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 399-418)
  9. Index
    (pp. 419-424)
  10. About the Editor
    (pp. 425-425)