The Morality of Law Practice

Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.

Volume 66, Issue 2, 359-81

This is an inquiry about the morality of lawyers and law practice. Some modern academic critiques hold law practice to be immoral or unjust as compared to the standard of “common morality” or of the sense of “justice” shared in the community. This Essay advances a different standard of reference, one that takes into account the pervasive conflicts within society and the limitations on the government’s ability to get at the truth. These limitations generate a role for lawyers as empowered figures who employ government authority as partisans and confidantes for their clients. That role is comparable to other roles that involve exercise of authority, particularly the roles of government officials and business managers.

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