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Ethics Education in Australia

Submitted by Francisco Esparraga on Tue, 07-22-2014
Long title
Legal Ethics Education in Australia and the Challenges for New Law Graduates
Esparraga, Francisco
Author(s)' contact information
University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney, Australia
Conference title
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location
City University London
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A review of curricula in Australian University Law Schools has revealed that most Universities tend to take a relatively narrow view of ethics which sees it as limited to the rules of “professional practice” in the law.
The School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney, has committed to producing not only fine legal practitioners but “well rounded people” and has assumed a broader mandate regarding the ethical education of its students.
Most institutions tend to focus on legal ethics as “the law of lawyering rather than recognising the connection between the personal and the professional which genuine professional integrity and responsibility entail”.
Since the legal community tends to view ethics as a matter of practitioners’ “professional obligation” to respect the codified rules of professional practice, it explicitly adopts a prescriptive view of ethics, one which equates to a morality of duty and obligation.
This raises the challenging question of how legal ethics ought to be taught and what students ought to be taught about the relationship between the law and ethics. This is particularly important because law schools have the power to shape the future direction of legal practice in the way they educate future practitioners.
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