Different Approaches to Lawyers' Ethics
There are four main strands of ethical reasoning or considerations available for lawyers in the context of Australian legal institutions: adversarial advocacy (discussed in the previous chapter); responsible lawyering; moral activism; and ethics of care. (Table 2.1 sets out a summary of the four approaches.) These four approaches are reflected in applied ethics scholarship and in the commonsense ‘folk practices’ of lawyers. Each emphasises a different value (or bundle of values) that lawyers could or should serve in legal practice. These four approaches are set out in this book as ‘ideal types’ that emphasise what is distinctive about each approach. However the authors of this book believe that in general the four different approaches tend to complement one another. It would be over-simplistic to seek to brand most individual lawyers or applied legal ethics scholars as following one approach or another. In many situations all four approaches will lead to agreement on the right thing to do. In some situations, the application of the considerations mandated by more than one approach might temper and improve the way in which we might have approached a situation had we applied only one approach. In other situations, careful analysis will show that some ethical considerations should carry more weight than others because of the surrounding circumstances. One objective of this chapter and the previous one is to set out the justifications for the four different types of ethical considerations so that it is clear what assumptions each makes about the circumstances in which it should apply.