The Ethical Health Lawyer: An Empirical Assessment of Moral Decision Making

35 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2008 Last revised: 13 May 2014

Joshua E. Perry

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Law

Ilene N. Moore

Vanderbilt University

Bruce Barry

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

Ellen Wright Clayton

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Amanda R. Carrico

Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment

Date Written: December 10, 2008

Abstract

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.

Keywords: legal ethics, health law, professionalism, morals, moral discourse, religion

Suggested Citation

Perry, Joshua E. and Moore, Ilene N. and Barry, Bruce and Wright Clayton, Ellen and Carrico, Amanda R., The Ethical Health Lawyer: An Empirical Assessment of Moral Decision Making (December 10, 2008). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 37, p. 461, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1314405

Joshua E. Perry (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Law ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Ilene N. Moore

Vanderbilt University ( email )

Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Bruce Barry

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Ellen Wright Clayton

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-1186 (Phone)
615-322-4548 (Fax)

Amanda R. Carrico

Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment ( email )

Nashville, TN 37240

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