Moral Courage in Indigent Defense

19 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 24 Jan 2018

Date Written: May 1, 2017


This essay, part of New England Law Review’s symposium on Behavioral Legal Ethics, explores the conditions under which criminal defense lawyers for indigent clients can be expected to resist excessive workloads. Drawing from research on the psychology of moral courage, it identifies factors that have been found to correlate to courageous conduct in the face of personal risk, most notably the role of anger, moral conviction and sensitivity to injustice. Applying these findings to the field of indigent defense, it sets out some preliminary ideas about how to identify and overcome barriers to action.

Keywords: Indigent defense, moral courage, psychology, criminal law

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Eldred, Tigran, Moral Courage in Indigent Defense (May 1, 2017). New England Law Review, Vol. 51, p. 97, 2017, New England Law | Boston Research Paper No. 18-01 , Available at SSRN:

Tigran Eldred (Contact Author)

New England Law | Boston ( email )

154 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
United States
617-368-1433 (Phone)

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