Response or Comment
David Luban helped invent the field of legal ethics some years ago; Legal Ethics and Human Dignity provides an opportunity to assess how it has developed. By way of both homage and critique, I offer three comments on central issues that the book raises: the nature of the moral foundations of lawyers' ethics; the relation of legal and ordinary moral norms in legal ethics decisions; and the relation of ethical norms and organization.
I associate the issue of moral foundations with the past because modern academic discussion of legal ethics began with this focus. The relationship between law and morals is a more recent focus. I predict, and hope, that the organizational focus will become dominant in the future. Legal Ethics and Human Dignity reflects this trajectory of preoccupation. The moral foundations discussion briefly resurfaces in the book in an exhausted state. The book brilliantly advances the discussion of law-and-morals in a way that makes it seem as if the subject had been brought to a close. The need for an organizational focus is a central implication of some of the most powerful parts of the book.
William H. Simon,
The Past, the Present, and Future of Legal Ethics: Three Comments for David Luban,
Cornell L. Rev.
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