‘Gorilla Exceptions’ and the Ethically Apathetic Corporate Lawyer

Steven Vaughan and Emma Oakley, 'Gorilla exceptions’ and the ethically apathetic corporate lawyer' (2016) 19(1) Legal Ethics 50-75

27 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2017

See all articles by Steven Vaughan

Steven Vaughan

Faculty of Laws, University College London

Emma Oakley

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Law School

Date Written: June 30, 2016

Abstract

This paper draws on interviews with 57 corporate finance lawyers working from global law firms based in the City of London. Drawing on this data, we highlight common themes of taking deals at ‘face value’, being the lawyer-technician who uses the law to effect his client’s wishes, and not ‘pushing’ ethics. We suggest that there is an apathy – a lack of concern or interest – about ethics on the part of corporate lawyers. This apathy stems from various sources. It is linked to assumptions about the sorts of clients that large law firms are willing or not willing to act for, and assumptions about the ‘right sort of people’ the firm hires and retains; it is linked to strong notions of role morality; and it is founded on the classic legal ethics ‘standard conception’ principles of neutrality and non-accountability. Our data also highlights a lack of ethical infrastructures in large firms, and a lack of ethical leadership from law firm partners for the associates and trainees working for them.

Keywords: Lawyers, Ethics, Standard Conception, Corporate Finance, Apathy

Suggested Citation

Vaughan, Steven and Oakley, Emma, ‘Gorilla Exceptions’ and the Ethically Apathetic Corporate Lawyer (June 30, 2016). Steven Vaughan and Emma Oakley, 'Gorilla exceptions’ and the ethically apathetic corporate lawyer' (2016) 19(1) Legal Ethics 50-75, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3011764

Steven Vaughan (Contact Author)

Faculty of Laws, University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.laws.ucl.ac.uk/people/steven-vaughan/

Emma Oakley

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Law School ( email )

Edgbaston
Birmingham, AL B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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