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Legal ethics can't be based on anecdotes

Simplistically seeing ‘unethical’ lawyers as ?bad apples to be discarded shows how inadequate current tools are in measuring ethical behaviour in the ?legal services sector, says Richard Moorhead

18 September 2012

Is it possible in any useful way to ‘measure’ ethics? That was, in very rough terms, the question posed by a project I led with Christine Parker, Victoria Hinchly, David Kershaw and Soren Holm published last week by the Legal Services Board. It’s a controversial idea and one that has prompted both interest and neuralgia. Here come the regulators with more tests for us to satisfy, is what a reasonable constituency fears.

That is not what this project is about. If asked whether one can ‘measure’ right or wrong the answer is in an important sense a clear no. You cannot produce a test that says this adviser/lawyer/firm is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It doesn’t work like that. There is no test that can be used to determine ethicality for admission, for instance.

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