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The Moral Responsibility of the Corporate Lawyer

37 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2010 Last revised: 27 Jul 2011

Judith A. McMorrow

Boston College - Law School

Luke M. Scheuer

Widener University - Delaware Law School

Date Written: March 23, 2010

Abstract

Lawyers traditionally claim that they are not morally accountable for the goals or activities of their clients that are within the bounds of the law. This essay explores this concept of non-accountability in the context of corporate transactional representation. We argue that corporate lawyers, whose practice is forward looking, undertaken on behalf of corporate clients who have legally impaired ability to engage in independent moral reasoning, and who function in a world of relatively minimal legal oversight (i.e. whose work is furthest from the model of the adversary system) cannot persuasively claim that they are not morally responsible for the work on behalf of their corporate clients. This conclusion is, in fact, heartening if it encourages corporate transactional attorneys to focus more deeply on the value of their work to society.

Keywords: morality, accountability, professional responsibility

Suggested Citation

McMorrow, Judith A. and Scheuer, Luke M., The Moral Responsibility of the Corporate Lawyer (March 23, 2010). Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 2, Winter 2011; Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 193. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1577081

Judith A. McMorrow (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

Luke M. Scheuer

Widener University - Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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