The Rule of Law(yers) - Review Essay of the Practice of Justice: A Theory of Lawyers' Ethics, by William H. Simon
Robert F. Cochran Jr.
Pepperdine University School of Law
Missouri Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 2, 2000
Simon argues that the problem with lawyers is at the heart of what the profession calls on lawyers to do. Under what Simon calls “the Dominant View” of lawyering, lawyers do whatever is “arguably legal” for clients. Simon argues that such advocacy is likely to undercut the search for justice. Simon praises the ethical precepts of the authors of the earliest American lawyer codes, David Hoffman and George Sharswood. They argued that lawyers should assume “public responsibility and [exercise] complex normative judgment.” Simon renews Hoffman's and Sharswood's call for lawyers to seek justice. He argues that “[l]awyers should take those actions that, considering the relevant circumstances of the particular case, seem likely to promote justice.” Simon argues that lawyers should look to the law for their understanding of justice. Justice is to be found in our “legal values.” Cochran shares Simon's belief that lawyers should pursue justice, but in this essay, he discusses two problems with Simon's model. The first, which he discusses in Part II, is Simon's choice of “legal values” as the source of justice. A second problem with either incarnation of Simon's model is that it will exclude the client from participating in the resolution of many important issues that arise in the law office. In Part III, Cochran explores the authoritarian and client-centered models of lawyering. He also considers the possibility of a collaborative model of lawyer-client relations, in which the client and lawyer together wrestle with the demands of justice. Cochran concludes this essay by arguing that lawyers should seek justice in light of all of the circumstances of each case. They cannot put on blinders and assume that aggressive advocacy will yield justice. Lawyers should involve clients in the pursuit of justice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: justice, attorney, professional responsibility
JEL Classification: K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 10, 2010
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