Legal ethics [Editorial]

Mortensen, Reid ORCID: and Sommerlad, Hilary (2014) Legal ethics [Editorial]. Legal Ethics, 17 (3). iii-iv. ISSN 1460-728X

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Professor David Luban opens this issue of Legal Ethics by posing two questions. Is there a human right to be represented by a lawyer? Assuming that there is such a human right, what ethical responsibilities for lawyers would follow from recognising just that? For Luban, the first question is answered by the necessity of a legal system for the protection of primary, universal rights. And the representation of the citizen by lawyers is an integral part of a legal system. The human right to a lawyer is therefore a derivative right, but necessary to any genuine scheme of human rights protection. As Luban writes, ‘Lawyers can inform people about legal opportunities, ranging from the existence of a cause of action, to the existence of mechanisms to secure property rights, obtain government benefits, organise a union, start a business, or challenge unfair government action (to cite a few obvious examples).
And, of course, in their functions as advocates lawyers can give voice to the voiceless.’ He then gives an ethics of legal practice that aims to honour the dignity and human rights of the citizen and, by no means incompatibly, the dignity of the lawyer as a trustee of the political community. These ethics include ‘an imperfect obligation to offer pro bono service’, a responsibility to support stronger human rights, and the effect that their choice of client may have on the human rights of others—a challenge to the human rights rationale that is often assumed to underlie the cab-rank rule.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Law and Justice (1 Jul 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Law and Justice (1 Jul 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2015 04:17
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2017 05:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: legal ethics
Fields of Research (2008): 18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180121 Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2201 Applied Ethics > 220105 Legal Ethics
Fields of Research (2020): 48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4805 Legal systems > 480505 Legal practice, lawyering and the legal profession
50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5001 Applied ethics > 500105 Legal ethics
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9499 Other Law, Politics and Community Services > 949999 Law, Politics and Community Services not elsewhere classified

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