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Hippocrates and Socrates: Professional Obligations to Educate the Next Generation

23 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016  

Deborah Jones Merritt

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: January 25, 2016

Abstract

Do professionals have an ethical obligation to educate new members of their profession? The ancient Hippocratic oath recognized such a commitment, requiring all doctors “to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning...to pupils who have signed the covenant.” Contemporary theories of professionalism point to the same result, identifying intergenerational education as an essential feature of professional status. Moral theory and economic policy, finally, underscore this outcome: In return for the exclusive right to practice a profession, established members of the profession must agree to share their knowledge, skills, and other expertise with newcomers.

The rules of professional conduct governing lawyers, sadly, do not mention this duty to educate. Equally unfortunate, mounting evidence suggests that neither law schools nor the practicing bar are fulfilling their ethical obligation to educate new members of the profession. This Article explores both the nature of that ethical gap and ways that law schools could restore their ethical commitment to educate new members of the bar. To provide background for that discussion, Part I of the Article examines the historical, social, moral, and economic roots of a professional obligation to educate. Part II then analyzes the status of this obligation within the legal profession. Part III, finally, proposes six ways that legal educators can improve our ethical commitment to educating new lawyers.

Keywords: Legal education, Mentoring, Professional Ethics

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10

Suggested Citation

Merritt, Deborah Jones, Hippocrates and Socrates: Professional Obligations to Educate the Next Generation (January 25, 2016). Wake Forest Law Review, Forthcoming; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 327. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2721725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2721725

Deborah Jones Merritt (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-247-7933 (Phone)
614-292-4868 (Fax)

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