Generally speaking, at least in contemporary Western societies lawyers do not have a very good reputation in the eyes of public opinion. This affects the perception that lawyers have of themselves, often leading to cynicism. Although many law schools curricula nowadays include courses in legal ethics, often taught during the last year of the law degree, professors teaching them have to face many obstacles. In consequence, it is very difficult for them to tackle the ethical flaws of the profession. After identifying some of these obstacles, I introduce some proposals for making deontological education in the law school more effective. First, I make some suggestions regarding the content and methods that may be used in the courses in legal ethics. These include: A. Explicit adoption of a justificatory model for lawyers? behaviour, together with an important effort for coherence, either if we are following a particular justificatory model or comparing some of them. B. To consider the real conditions of practice, instead of an idealized or out-fashioned picture of the lawyers' work. C. To avoid 'hard' ethical dilemmas, which are far from the day to day of legal practice. D. To use interactive methods and role playing. Second, beyond the limits of any particular course I make some proposals as regards the role that legal ethics should play on the legal curriculum considered as a whole. Thus, I suggest that there ought to be a course in legal ethics during the first year of the law degree. This should be a course based on ethical reflection at a time when students' minds are fresh and have not been much influenced by lawyers' negative self-perception. There should also be a course in legal ethics during the last year. This one could be based on the codes of conduct that actually apply to the lawyers' professional conduct. But more important than any of these courses, legal ethics should be something that pervades the law school as a whole. In this sense, I agree that ethics should be taught by the method of pervasive education. This may require the design and implementation of particular structures involving students, alumni and professors.

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Arjona SebastiÓ, CÚsar

Teaching professional ethics in the law school: Many problems and some suggestions

Generally speaking, at least in contemporary Western societies lawyers do not have a very good reputation in the eyes of public opinion. This affects the perception that lawyers have of themselves, often leading to cynicism. Although many law schools curricula nowadays include courses in legal ethics, often taught during the last year of the law degree, professors teaching them have to face many obstacles. In consequence, it is very difficult for them to tackle the ethical flaws of the profession. After identifying some of these obstacles, I introduce some proposals for making deontological education in the law school more effective. First, I make some suggestions regarding the content and methods that may be used in the courses in legal ethics. These include: A. Explicit adoption of a justificatory model for lawyers? behaviour, together with an important effort for coherence, either if we are following a particular justificatory model or comparing some of them. B. To consider the real conditions of practice, instead of an idealized or out-fashioned picture of the lawyers' work. C. To avoid 'hard' ethical dilemmas, which are far from the day to day of legal practice. D. To use interactive methods and role playing. Second, beyond the limits of any particular course I make some proposals as regards the role that legal ethics should play on the legal curriculum considered as a whole. Thus, I suggest that there ought to be a course in legal ethics during the first year of the law degree. This should be a course based on ethical reflection at a time when students' minds are fresh and have not been much influenced by lawyers' negative self-perception. There should also be a course in legal ethics during the last year. This one could be based on the codes of conduct that actually apply to the lawyers' professional conduct. But more important than any of these courses, legal ethics should be something that pervades the law school as a whole. In this sense, I agree that ethics should be taught by the method of pervasive education. This may require the design and implementation of particular structures involving students, alumni and professors.
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Teaching professional ethics in the law school: Many problems and some suggestions
Arjona SebastiÓ, CÚsar
23rd IVR World Congress, Krakow 2007
Jagiellonian University in Cracow
Krakow (Poland), 02/08/2007 - 02/08/2007

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