Exploring the ethics of the legal profession

Ethics in Law: Lawyers' Responsibility and Accountability in Australia - Ysaiah Ross

There is this definition of legal ethics that goes like this: a lawyer is paid by his client and as he is counting the money he discovers that two one hundred dollar notes are stuck together: does he tell his partner?

The truth about any form of ethics is that when you are dealing with professions there are ethics that are particular to that profession. For instance the doctor is only to use his (or her) skills to heal, and not harm, another human being. Lawyers, though, have a whole different line of ethics, and sometimes many of those outside the legal profession do not understand the nature of these ethics. With the example above, the reality of the situation is (at least in Australia) when it comes to costs, lawyers face some of the most stringent regulations. There was a law firm that I knew that had a very bad reputation, but if that law firm were overpaid they would pay back what was not owed to them.

The lawyer also has a reputation of being a liar, and that is another aspect of the legal profession that people do not understand. I suspect that the idea of the lawyer being a liar is because it is believed that a lawyer will happily lie on behalf of their client. The truth of the matter is that it is not necessarily the lawyer that is doing the lying, but the client. In fact the lawyer may suspect that the client is lying, however it would be unprofessional for the lawyer to accuse the client of lying (unless of course there was solid proof).

The job of the lawyer is to represent the client in the court of law, and a lawyer must act on their client's instructions. The lawyer shares his knowledge with the client by providing advice and what they believe to be the best course of action, and the client then makes the decision based upon that advice. However, the lawyer's advice is always tempered by the story that the client tells them, and if the client is not being candid with the lawyer then the advice that the lawyer gives the client is going to be flawed.

The art of being a good lawyer (at least in some of the fields) is the art of being able to tell a good story. Okay, maybe insolvency, or mergers and acquisitions, may not give rise to the need to being able to tell a good story (though that is where the art of negotiation comes in), however when you are dealing with areas such as criminal law and personal injury, then the art of telling a story becomes tantamount. It is the ability to tell a story that is able to get hundreds of thousands of dollars for somebody who suffered a relatively minor whiplash injury in a relatively minor road traffic accident.

As for this book, I really cannot remember what the whole book was about, though I did read it, even if it was because it was compulsory for us to take legal ethics. However, as I have explained above, the whole concept of legal ethics is a very grey area, and in many cases people do not understand the nature of legal ethics when they are outside of the legal field.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/550012165