Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1873359
 


 



Lawyers as Insincere (But Truthful) Actors


Lawrence M. Solan


Brooklyn Law School

June 27, 2011

Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 238

Abstract:     
Lawyers are given license to suspend what philosophers have called sincerity conditions. We ordinarily take people as being sincere in their speech. They expect us to do so, just as we, when we speak, expect others to take us as being sincere. Lawyers, however, are given license to be insincere. They are trained to be simultaneously truthful and insincere. On the one hand, they are required to tell the truth in the context of legal proceedings. On the other, they are insincere in that they routinely structure their speech to lead others into drawing inferences that will serve the lawyer’s goals, whether or not those inferences reflect a fair assessment of facts or law. This paper looks at the distinction between lying and deception, and finds some moral distinction, but not enough to justify the conduct acceptable by the legal profession on moral grounds. The paper discusses aspects of our psychology that make us vulnerable to the kind of deception practiced by lawyers, and concludes by criticizing American legal education for not imbuing a sense of responsibility in young lawyers that should accompany the license to be insincere. While the article focuses on lawyers working in the American adversarial system, many of the observations and issues apply to lawyers working in other legal systems, as well.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: sincerity, ethics, deception, correspondence bias

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: June 27, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Solan, Lawrence M., Lawyers as Insincere (But Truthful) Actors (June 27, 2011). Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 238. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1873359 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1873359

Contact Information

Lawrence M. Solan (Contact Author)
Brooklyn Law School ( email )
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-780-0357 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.brooklaw.edu/lawrence_solan

Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,093
Downloads: 284
Download Rank: 60,978
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.359 seconds