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“Ethical, ooh, Yeah Ethical is Yeah, What's Right Yeah“: A Snapshot of First Year Law Students' Conception of Ethics

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This paper suggests a baseline conception of ethics of first year law students. It is grounded on the awareness that the call for greater ethical conduct within the legal profession is based on a particularly strong conception of ethics; namely ethics deals with the public accountability to the Good for the practical values and judgments an individual makes in their daily life. The research uncovered that law students did not share this conception of ethics. Students tended to either reduce the ethical to another field of human conduct, such as politics or law, or conceived it as the realm of subjective morality that involved no public accountability. This vacuity of ethics for first year law students presents an added challenge to the ethical legal education project in that before ethics can be taught, ethics must be made to mean something.

Keywords: First Year Students; Legal Education; Legal Ethics; Morality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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