Ethical Misconduct by New Australian Lawyers: Prevalence and Prevention
International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2020
Posted: 20 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 22, 2020
This paper examines the ethical behavior of new lawyers from two contrasting points of view. First, we review the prevalence and type of ethical misconduct by lawyers in the Australian state of Victoria during their first three years of practice. This examination is based upon data provided by the professional conduct oversight body, the Victorian Legal Services Board & Commissioner. An analysis of this data provides some understanding of how often and what kinds of misconduct occur, and how new lawyers differ from lawyers, however the data yields limited insight into how we might prevent ethical problems. Consequently, we turn to examine the findings from our empirical study into the ethical climate of legal workplaces. That study investigated the perceptions of new lawyers about the ethical climate of their workplaces and revealed that those perceptions influence new lawyers’ understandings of professionalism and ethical conduct, as well as their job and career satisfaction and psychological well-being. By interrogating the developmental and situational context in which ordinary ethicality develops or is inhibited, a new opportunity becomes available to shape new lawyers’ practice towards better ethical outcomes.
Keywords: legal ethics, legal profession, ethical misconduct
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