The Culture of Legal Denial
Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 84, p. 247, 2005-2006
66 Pages Posted: 23 May 2010
Date Written: 2005
Basic morality teaches that if a person injures another, he should take responsibility for what he has done. Lawyers, by contrast, typically assist injurers in the reverse -- denial. The immoral response of denial after injury is viewed as normal within our legal culture. Yet why should it be presumed that denial best serves the client's interests? Do not clients have moral and psychological interests along with economic ones? This article critically examines the practice of lawyers assisting clients in denying harms they commit. More specifically, I argue that lawyers should consider discussing responsibility taking with clients, and suggest ways of engaging in such conversations. Additionally, I analyze several systemic factors that may buttress the practice of denial seen in ordinary legal disputes. These include economic incentives within litigation, the nature of different dispute resolution mechanisms, the methodology of legal education, and broader aspects of our cultural composition.
Keywords: denial, responsibility, apology, legal ethics, professional responsibilty, negotiation, dispute
JEL Classification: K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation