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Lawyers & Philosophers: Mutually Supporting Perspectives
Practicing Lawyers and Philosophers: Mutually Supporting Perspectives on Legal Ethics
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Canadian Association for Legal Ethics AGM & Conference
Western University, London, Ontario
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Why should lawyers have an interest in what philosophers, especially philosophical legal ethicists, say about law and legal ethics? Drawing on the work of Lon Fuller and Nigel Simmonds, I will argue that practical legal reasoning and philosophical reasoning are mutually supporting in providing insights about law and legal ethics, in particular, because of the varied expertise, applied and theoretical, of lawyers and philosophers. To narrow my focus, I will argue that our understanding of the ethical stakes of the adversarial model of adjudication is enriched by considering both forms of reasoning. The practical realities of representing a client in a legal dispute provide unique insights about the legal and ethical aspects of the adversarial model for which philosophical reasoning about law must account. At the same time, lawyers can enrich their knowledge of the value and purpose of their work in the adversarial model by engaging in philosophical contemplation and even by reading technical philosophical literature.
In discussing these topics as they pertain to legal ethics, I will draw upon Fuller’s thought experiment of a young lawyer who engages in philosophical contemplation to deal with his concern that the adversarial model of adjudication may cause him to align himself too closely with his client’s interests. I will discuss both the special insights that the practicing lawyer has in appreciating this problem and the ways in which philosophy is helpful in orienting and dealing with this lawyer’s concerns.
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