Professional Formation/Professionalism's Foundation: Engaging Each Student's and Lawyer's Tradition on the Question 'What Are My Responsibilities to Others?'
68 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2015 Last revised: 16 May 2016
Date Written: February 17, 2015
Responsibility and service to others is at the heart of the peer-review professions like law, but because of a growing diversity of thought around moral questions in our society, we have a great challenge in how we can talk to each other about these responsibilities. This paper addresses this challenge by asking each student and practitioner to reflect on the question "to what tradition do I turn in answering the question 'what are my responsibilities to others?'" In dialogue with others whom the student or practitioner is trying to counsel or influence, including the client or colleagues in the profession, the student or practitioner also tries both to understand the other person's tradition with respect to this same question, and to engage the other person with questions regarding responsibilities to others from that understanding.
For each law graduate, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct both require compliance with the floor of conduct of the rule system and at the same time urge development of "professional and moral judgment" and the meaning of being an "ethical person" in deciding all the "difficult issues of professional discretion" that arise in the practice of law. Answering the question "what are my responsibilities to others?" is the foundation for a law graduate's development of professional and moral judgment and the meaning of being an ethical person.
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