Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whelan on Professionalism and Values

This sounds like a very interesting article from Christopher J. Whelan (Oxford); unfortunately, only the abstract and not the full download is posted to SSRN.  Look for it in Volume 54 of the Buffalo Law Review (2007).  Here is the abstract:

This article explores two key core values of the legal profession - the exercise of independent professional judgment and respect for the rule of law - in the context of the relationship between Vinson & Elkins and Enron. V&E was the outside law firm turned to most frequently by Enron prior to its spectacular fall from grace in 2001. The analysis suggests that core values do play a significant role in corporate law practice but in unexpected ways. While core values promote a professionalism ideology that has an impact on the lawyer-client relationship, this ideology serves to undermine the public interest role implicit in professionalism. The reason is that lawyers define their role in terms of the law, of what the law allows and predictions of what the law will be. The 'problem' of their behaviour is not one of deviance - breaking the rules - but of compliance - delivering legality.

Therefore, there needs to be some realism about professionalism.  Corporate lawyers are legal realists. The regulation of corporate lawyers is less a problem of lawyers as professionals but a problem of law and its capacity to control.

[Jeff Lipshaw]


Abstracts Highlights - Academic Articles on the Legal Profession | Permalink

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