The Moral Responsibility of the Corporate Lawyer
37 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2010 Last revised: 27 Jul 2011
Date Written: March 23, 2010
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: Suggested Citation