Catholic Social Thought and the Ethical Formation of Lawyers: A Call for Community
Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 2004
67 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2004
In our system of professional regulation, where all lawyers in a state receive ethical guidance almost exclusively from state-level sources, it appears that lawyers have entrusted functions to the higher collectivity that are more properly shared with subordinate communities. Specifically, faith communities of lawyers have foregone any sustained or significant formative role in the professional ethics of their members. Such communities are uniquely situated and equipped to shape members' professional lives in ways that the ABA does not even purport to address. Catholic lawyers especially should be inclined to supplement the Model Rules' baseline requirements with a communal life that engages in an organic, interactive and intellectual process of mutual moral influence. This article traces the interplay of Catholic social teaching and governing conceptions of legal ethics, and explores the tensions that arise between a formative role for the faith community and the traditional presumptions of the profession.
Keywords: Legal ethics, Catholic social thought, religion, community, professionalism
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