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Conventional morality frowns at the ethics of advocacy. Public opinion disapproves of what it considers the lawyer's most characteristic activities. Popular culture can reconcile itself to him only by pretending that all his clients are virtuous. The lawyer's response takes the form of a dialectic of cynicism and naiveté. On one hand, he sees his more degrading activities as licensed by a fundamental amorality lying beneath conventional morality. On the other hand, he sees his more heartening ones as serving an institutional justice higher than conventional morality. The two moods divide the profession as a whole, and the division can sometimes be seen in the professional lives of individual lawyers, as, for instance, when they turn from their paid efforts on behalf of what they admit to be private interests to their donated services on behalf of what they claim to be the public good.


Law | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility


Copyright 1978 by The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System; Reprinted by permission of the Wisconsin Law Review.