The Ethical Health Lawyer: An Empirical Assessment of Moral Decision Making
Joshua E. Perry
Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Law
Ilene N. Moore
Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management
Ellen Wright Clayton
Vanderbilt University - Law School
Amanda R. Carrico
Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment
December 10, 2008
Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 37, p. 461, 2009
Writing in 1999, legal ethics scholar Brad Wendel noted that "very little empirical work has been done on the moral decision making of lawyers." Indeed, since the mid-1990s, few empirical studies have attempted to explore how attorneys deliberate about ethical dilemmas they encounter in their practice. Moreover, while past research has explored some of the ethical issues confronting lawyers practicing in certain specific areas of practice, no published data exists probing the moral mind of health care lawyers. As signaled by the creation of a regular column "devoted to ethical issues arising in the practice of health law" in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the time to address the empirical gap in the professional ethics literature is now.
Accordingly, this article presents data collected from 120 health care lawyers. Presenting this population with a number of hypothetical scenarios relating to how they would respond when confronting an ethical dilemma without an obvious solution or when facing a situation in which their personal values were in tension with their professional obligations, this article represents a first step toward better understanding how lawyers who practice in health care settings understand and resolve the moral discomfort they encounter in their professional lives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: legal ethics, health law, professionalism, morals, moral discourse, religion
Date posted: December 11, 2008 ; Last revised: May 13, 2014