Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Seymore: "Ethical Blind Spots in Adoption Lawyering"

Malinda Seymore (Texas A & M) has posted to SSRN her recent article, Ethical Blind Spots in Adoption Lawyering, University of Richmond Law Review (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

Lawyers engaged in adoption work often call it “happy law,” and consider adoption –finding a child for yearning  parents,  finding parents  for a needy child –an unmitigated good. That attitude  can mask the fact that  all adoption  begins with loss.  One family loses a child so that another family can gain one. A lawyer’s assurance that she is engaged in positive work can lead to ethical blind spots  that  ignore the complexities of adoption  practice. And while the touchstone  of adoption  is the best interests  of the child, the primacy in legal ethics of the interests of the client, who is rarely the child, skews  that focus. This article discusses ethical issues relevant to adoption  attorneys, centeringon the Model Rules of Professional  Conduct most applicable to adoption  practice, as well as the lessons from behavioral ethics that  inform the ethical blind spots common in the practice. Rules relating to competency and  confidentiality, conflicts of interest and dual representation, and the lawyer’s role as counselor are particularly germane. Since legal ethics can be both descriptive and normative, this  article addresses  both what  the ethical requirements of professional responsibility  are, and what  they should be in adoption  practice. This article sketches the contours  of ethical lawyering  in adoption  in order to shine light on the ethical blind spots  adoption  attorneys  should avoid, and to  suggest some solutions  from behavioral ethics to  eradicate blind spots.

In this article, Prof. Seymore drills down on the subject of adoption lawyering, a subject she touched on in her previous article, Adopting Civil Damages: Wrongful Family Separation in Adoption, in which she argued for suing adoption agencies and lawyers for wrongful actions in securing an adoption.  It was published in the Washington & Lee Law Review, and is available here.



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