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Ethics in Legal Education and Training: Four Reports, Three Jurisdictions and a Prospectus

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Professional work is defined by a concern for moral issues. The pervasive rationale for legal education, curiously, in most of its manifestations, is that it teaches students to think like lawyers. Yet, despite four major reports in England and Wales in the past forty years, only recently has it been advocated that the moral component in“thinking like a lawyer”should be part of the education of lawyers. The first step was taken by the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Education and Conduct (ACLEC) in 1996 and was followed in 2001 by the Law Society of England and Wales’consultation on a new training framework. ACLEC had argued that legal education and training should be a continuum in which ethics played a significant role. The Law Society followed this, proposing that ethics, together with knowledge and skills, should form the core elements of the legal education and training of solicitors“from the cradle to the grave”. Response to the ACLEC report focused on its proposed structural changes and, in the short term, its thinking on ethics received less attention. Respondents to the Law Society’s consultation gave almost universal approval to the central role conceived for ethics. This is surprising given that ethics has, hitherto, had no role in degree level education and given the hostile response usually given by the academy to pro-posed expansion of the compulsory core.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Legal Ethics is an international and interdisciplinary journal devoted to the field of legal ethics.
    The journal provides an intellectual meeting ground for academic lawyers, practitioners and policy-makers to debate developments shaping the ethics of law and its practice at the micro and macro levels.
    Its focus is broad enough to encompass empirical research on the ethics and conduct of the legal professions and judiciary, studies of legal ethics education and moral development, ethics development in contemporary professional practice, the ethical responsibilities of law schools, professional bodies and government, and jurisprudential or wider philosophical reflections on law as an ethical system and on the moral obligations of individual lawyers.

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