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Rehabilitating Lawyers: Perceptions of Deviance and Its Cures in the Lawyer Reinstatement Process

38 Pages Posted: 18 May 2013  

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law

Jane Campbell Moriarty

Duquesne University - School of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2012

Abstract

State courts’ approach to lawyer admissions and discipline has not changed fundamentally in the past century. Courts still place faith in the idea that “moral character” is a stable trait that reliably predicts whether an individual will be honest in any given situation. Although research in neuroscience, cognitive science, psychiatry, research psychology, and behavioral economics (collectively “cognitive and social science”) has influenced prevailing concepts of personality and trustworthiness, courts to date have not considered whether they might change or refine their approach to “moral character” in light of scientific insights. This Article examines whether courts should reevaluate how they decide whether to allow lawyers to return to law practice after suspension or disbarment for impermissibly deceptive conduct. The Article describes courts’ traditional approach, discusses some of the relevant scientific literature, and suggests some possible reasons why courts appear not to have considered such scientific insights. The Article concludes with some thoughts about the utility of the role of scientific research in the disciplinary process.

Keywords: Professional responsibility, moral character, lawyers, legal profession, rehabilitation, disbarment, professional regulation, attorney misconduct, attorney discipline, readmission, suspension, reinstatement, cognitive science, social science, deception, cheating

Suggested Citation

Green, Bruce A. and Moriarty, Jane Campbell, Rehabilitating Lawyers: Perceptions of Deviance and Its Cures in the Lawyer Reinstatement Process (July 1, 2012). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 40, 2012; Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2259084

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6851 (Phone)
212-636-6899 (Fax)

Jane C. Moriarty (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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