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Rich, Smart, Honest?: Does Success Lead to Unethical Lawyering?

44 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2012 Last revised: 21 May 2016

Jeremy Kidd

Mercer University - Walter F. George School of Law

Michael I. Krauss

George Mason University School of Law

Date Written: September 6, 2012

Abstract

The causes of unethical behavior in society, and among lawyers specifically, are the subject of significant interest in legal and psychological academia. Among the hypothesized causes of unethical behavior is class distinction. This research offers a preliminary inquiry into whether the structure of law school education leads to greater unethical behavior because it imposes an additional level of class distinction among lawyers through class rankings and coveted spots on law review and other “elite” organizations. Empirical results suggest possible correlation between ethical standards and various indications of law school “class” status. While the results are not statistically significant to a high confidence level, the small number of observations may have led to the lack of statistical significance, indicating a need for further research to verify the results.

Keywords: Bill Gates, conduct, Ellen J. Kennedy, entitlement, ethical choice, ethics, honesty, integrity, Leigh Lawton, morals, NAS, National Academy of Sciences, noblesse oblige, Oliver Wendell Holmes, religion, responsibility, Rules of Professional Conduct, social, standards, Warren Buffett, wealth

Suggested Citation

Kidd, Jeremy and Krauss, Michael I., Rich, Smart, Honest?: Does Success Lead to Unethical Lawyering? (September 6, 2012). University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 10, 2012; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-59. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2142820 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2142820

Jeremy Kidd

Mercer University - Walter F. George School of Law ( email )

1021 Georgia Ave
Macon, GA 31207-0001
United States

Michael I. Krauss (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8024 (Phone)
703-993-8124 (Fax)

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