The Ethical Costs of Commercializing the Professions: First-Person Narratives from the Legal and Medical Trenches
University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, Vol. 13, p. 169, 2010
33 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2009 Last revised: 13 May 2014
Date Written: December 16, 2009
This paper explores the tension between being both a professional and a businessperson in the practice of law or medicine. Traditionally, these professions were marked by certain criteria, central of which was “a commitment to provide service to the public that goes beyond the economic welfare of the practitioner.” In 21st century U.S., however, business or economic concerns have an increasingly large impact on the lives of lawyers and physicians. This impact, I argue, is not a positive one. Drawing upon qualitative interview and survey data gathered from practicing lawyers and physicians who find themselves struggling to act as ethical businesspersons in the practice of law or medicine, I describe this moral tension between serving self-interests and meeting the needs of patients/clients as an important, under-identified, and ultimately corrosive component of contemporary professional life.
Keywords: ethics, professionalism, law, medicine, professional responsibility
JEL Classification: I10, K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation