Should Lawyers Be Morally Neutral? - An Expert's Perspective

The legal profession is often seen as a morally neutral one, where lawyers are expected to put their clients' interests first and not allow their own moral vision to interfere with the defense of their case. This is the “morally neutral position” that Slayton identifies as operating in the legal profession and that should be reviewed. He suggests that, just like a taxi driver, a lawyer is not concerned about the character or outcome of his role either. However, unlike a taxi driver, a lawyer cannot take the position of “what I don't know won't hurt me”.As professionals, lawyers have an important role to play in society or what is called the “morality of the professional role”.

People often mistakenly believe that lawyers possess a special insight into moral discrimination. It's one thing to say that a lawyer is free to work for a particular employer or client committed to a particular cause; another is to suggest that a lawyer has the right to deny someone the democratic right to legal representation because of the lawyer's personal morality. History has seen many lawyers take on cases for unpopular clients, from John Adams defending those accused of the Boston massacre to civil rights lawyers defending African-American men accused of rape in the Jim Crow South and who defended people detained at Guantánamo on charges of terrorism. It may be that the legal profession as a whole is too comfortable reciting the motto “everyone deserves a lawyer” to exonerate those who voluntarily choose to dedicate their time to defending the least valuable causes. Students may object if Sullivan had only defended poor clients with criminal charges, suggesting that they are not naively presuming that lawyers support everything their client did, but that they are annoyed that a professor is helping an elite imbecile who really doesn't need more help trying to destroy his victims.

But what special moral training have lawyers received, other than training in law? Believing that, by examining their own conscience, lawyers will be able to discover moral truth is, at best, naive and, at worst, contributes to a misinterpretation of the broader system of social justice in a democracy. The legal profession has a unique character in the sense that, unlike other professions, being a good lawyer does not necessarily mean being a good and moral person in the eyes of others. Weinstein had his lawyers hire Israeli intelligence agents to find dirty information about the women who had accused him. Defense advocacy can be ugly, since it involves questioning the narratives of victims and presenting arguments in support of some bad people, but most people understand that someone has to do this for the system to be fair. The lawyer has a duty to prevent an unscrupulous client from deceiving him (comments to Rule 2.02 ()).

Duncan Kennedy, also a former Harvard law professor, once gave a commencement speech to law students entitled “The responsibility of lawyers for the fairness of their clients' cases”, arguing that legal professionals should not swallow the argument that choosing to represent someone is morally neutral. The legal profession requires its members to remain morally neutral when representing their clients. This means that they must put aside their own personal beliefs and opinions and focus solely on providing their clients with effective legal representation. However, this does not mean that lawyers should be completely removed from any moral considerations when it comes to their work. Lawyers should be aware of their ethical obligations and strive to uphold them even when representing unpopular clients.

They should also be aware of how their actions may affect society as a whole and strive to ensure that justice is served. At its core, being morally neutral as a lawyer means understanding your ethical obligations and striving to uphold them even when representing unpopular clients. It also means being aware of how your actions may affect society as a whole and striving to ensure justice is served. Ultimately, it is up to each individual lawyer to decide how far they are willing to go in order to remain morally neutral while still providing effective legal representation.

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