A Career Choice Critique of Legal Ethics Theory

48 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2001


The article contends that legal ethics theory would benefit from incorporating an oft-overlooked reality of modern law practice: career choices often predetermine the clients that lawyers represent and the legal strategies that attorneys pursue. The problem with many existing ethics models is that they incorrectly assume that lawyers have sufficient autonomy to select their clients and legal strategies. In fact, most types of law practice place such significant restrictions on lawyers' freedom that career choices provide many attorneys with their main source of discretion. The article suggests that, in light of these client selection and strategy choice constraints, theorists need to explore the ethical dimensions of career choices but have repeatedly failed to do so. The piece ultimately suggests several ways in which existing models can incorporate the important constraining effects of career decisions and how they can consequently offer a richer vision of legal ethics.

Keywords: Career choice, ethics theory

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Perlman, Andrew, A Career Choice Critique of Legal Ethics Theory. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=259270 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.259270

Andrew Perlman (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
(617) 573-8777 (Phone)

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