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Lying and Lawyering: Contrasting American and Jewish Law

40 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2008  

Steven H. Resnicoff

DePaul University College of Law


Can desirable ends justify what would otherwise be undesirable means? The answers to this question depends on a variety of factors, including the ends to be accomplished, the means to be employed, the person who would use them, and the parties against whom they would be directed. This article begins by discussing American rules regarding lying by lawyers. The article argues that those rules place insufficient importance on the protection of innocents, have a corrosive effect on the moral values of lawyers who obey them and alienate lawyers who disobey them. The article then examines the Jewish law approach which, by contrast to secular law, eschews role-differentiated ethics and requires more contextual, nuanced decisionmaking. Finally, the article explores whether the Jewish law rules would provide useful guidance for revision of America's secular legal ethics laws.

Keywords: God, Jewish, rabbinic, legal ethics, ethics, professional ethics, lying, lawyers, lawyering,model rules, McDade, morality, role-differentiated, categorical imperative, Talmud, cognitive dissonance

Suggested Citation

Resnicoff, Steven H., Lying and Lawyering: Contrasting American and Jewish Law. Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 3, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Steven H. Resnicoff (Contact Author)

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

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