The lawyer as parent: sympathy, care and character in lawyers' ethics

Mortensen, Reid (2009) The lawyer as parent: sympathy, care and character in lawyers' ethics. Legal Ethics, 12 (1). pp. 1-34. ISSN 1460-728X

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Abstract

In A Solicitor v Law Society of New South Wales, the New South Wales Court of Appeal and the Australian High Court disagreed as to whether a lawyer’s convictions for sexual assaults on his partner’s daughters, construed as violations of a father’s responsibilities, showed he was unfit for legal practice. A Solicitor demonstrates the practical significance of the question whether parental qualities can rightly be expected of lawyers. This has been explored in Thomas Shaffer’s Christian ethics of care for lawyers, where ‘the lawyer as parent’ helps to explain qualities of care and sympathy that are important for ethical legal practice. The author argues that, while parental qualities are highly significant for a lawyer’s ethics, the practical implications of the parental drawn in Shaffer’s ethics of care understate the importance of the lawyer’s role (including moral commitments to the law) and collapse into situation ethics. He concludes that, while the metaphor should not be pressed too far, ‘the lawyer as parent’ does usefully help to describe the lawyer’s role and important social expectations of the legal profession. However, to deal adequately with other aspects of the lawyer’s role, this best comes within a stronger, virtue-based conception of character for lawyers.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: 'Copyright... remains the property of the contributor.'
Depositing User: Prof. Reid Mortensen
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Law
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2009 00:09
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: legal ethics, parental, ethics of care, sympathy, situation ethics, virtue ethics, character, sexual offence, Christian ethics
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180121 Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940499 Justice and the Law not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/5551

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