Responsibility-Rights in the Legal Profession
Deborah Jones Merritt
Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law
Daniel C. Merritt
January 19, 2012
Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 164
Professor Jeremy Waldron has proposed a new category of rights named “responsibility-rights.” Society grants these rights to facilitate the performance of responsibilities; continued exercise of the right, therefore, may depend upon full discharge of the responsibilities. In this invited essay, we apply Professor Waldron’s concept of responsibility-rights to the protected status of lawyers. United States lawyers possess a host of special rights, we argue, because society expects them to discharge accompanying responsibilities. Those responsibilities reach far beyond duties to individual clients; they include a responsibility to maintain a legal system that adequately serves society’s needs. Delivering that system requires lawyers to design education, bar admission, professional responsibility, and business systems that meet society’s needs — rather than ones that satisfy the interests of lawyers. If the legal profession does not meet this responsibility, it will forfeit its special rights. Client dissatisfaction and outsourcing of legal work suggest that this process is already under way.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: Professional Responsibility, Ethics, Legal Profession, Rights, Duties
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K2, K39, K40
Date posted: January 20, 2012
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