Ethics, Professionalism, and Meaningful Work

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Criminal Law | Law | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility


Much of the anxiety and dissatisfaction associated with legal ethics arises from the categorical quality of the bar's dominant norms. These norms take the form of relatively inflexible rules insensitive to all but a few of the circumstances of the cases they govern. Hence they often require the lawyer to take actions that contribute to injustice or to refrain from actions that would avert injustice.

For example, many lawyers believe that a criminal defender is obliged to impeach a truthful complaining witness even though the only immediate purpose of this tactic is to encourage the trier to draw a mistaken inference. And it seems fairly clear that the bar's current confidentiality rules prevent a lawyer from disclosing client secrets even in situations where disclosure would be necessary to save an innocent person wrongly convicted of a crime.