It is very encouraging to be publishing a third edition of this book in response to the confidence of our publishers and reviewers, and especially the teachers and students who have explored our earlier editions. This new edition includes substantially revised chapters and new case studies, and more purposefully comes to grips with the contributions of general morality to the increasingly diverse and complex ethical challenges facing law students and new lawyers.
The Uniform Law for lawyers is now in force in major Australian States and its influence is gradually extending to other jurisdictions, particularly in the widespread adoption of standard rules of professional conduct: The Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules. As with our approach in prior editions, we have attempted throughout not just to state and describe conduct rules and ethics-related case law, but to analyse and criticise them in terms of their purpose, design, implementation and enforcement, in light of the multifaceted role of lawyers in society as adversarial advocates, responsible officers of the court, champions of justice and caring professionals. At the time of writing this Preface, the Federal Immigration Minister has publicly asserted that lawyers acting for detained asylum seekers are ‘un-Australian’. In doing so, he ignores and denigrates the centuries-old examples of lawyers who have stood up against government oppression in the interests of justice. In our view, those examples and that tradition of lawyer independence remain central to the essence of modern legal ethics. Our emphasis therefore continues to be on the greater moral purposes of legal practice, and we remain convinced that those purposes – particularly as they can impact on major existential challenges such as global warming, corruption and human rights – are even more important to new lawyers’ emotional and spiritual sustainability; and at least as important as the rapidly changing nature of legal work and workplaces.
So, to paraphrase what we said in the Preface to our second edition, we remain convinced that the best hope for the moral and ethical future of our lawyers, and hence our legal system, is for law students and new lawyers to learn early about how to connect their humanity with their engagement in passionate and reasoned lawyering. We hope this third edition again makes these connections.