The Positive Empirical Relationship of Professionalism to Effectiveness in the Practice of Law
Neil W. Hamilton
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
University of St. Thomas; Cultural Dynamics Consulting
Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 24, Forthcoming)
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-22
This paper examines the relationship between professionalism and effectiveness through a review of empirical literature from the social sciences and the professions. In both peer-reviewed and industry studies, increased capacities for professionalism (e.g. personal conscience defined as perceptual clarity and empathy, moral judgment, moral identity, and moral implementation skills) were related to a wide range of effectiveness outcomes as assessed by clients and experienced professionals. These effectiveness outcomes include (1) increased satisfaction with the professional’s services, (2) decreased likelihood the professional experiences malpractice claims or complaints, and (3) increased likelihood the professional will detect or report wrongdoing. Evidence indicates that professionalism is not a fixed trait, but rather it can be enhanced and developed across the career span.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 56
Keywords: Professionalism, professional responsibility, professions, moral judgment, conscience, legal profession, legal malpractice
Date posted: October 29, 2009 ; Last revised: December 25, 2010
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