chapter  13
Reflection: new challenges to ethical practice
Pages 23

The first two sections of this book deal with the search for the ‘critical and theoretical dimensions’ of law and their incorporation into mainstream legal education and research. Two of the longest standing elements of those critical and theoretical dimensions have been ‘jurisprudence’ and ‘legal ethics’. However much ‘jurisprudence’ was marginalized in the past, ‘legal ethics’ was much more so. And while jurisprudence was rehabilitated in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this underlined how far legal ethics had to go and the low base from which it started. Indeed, the discussions about the inclusion of an ‘ethical dimension’ in legal education in the 1990s seemed similar to those about theory in the 1980s1 with debates about whether it should be a required part of the LLB still ongoing in this decade.2 In Australian law schools, legal ethics was not generally taught as part of the law course but as part of a set of subjects taken during practical legal training (PLT) and marked to pass – suggesting that there was nothing to be gained from high ethical standards and all you had to do was to avoid failing by not knowing the rules and getting caught. This chapter will briefly compare the progress of legal ethics into mainstream academic law courses before considering some of the issues in legal ethics that have either emerged or changed focus over the last 25 years. It will do so through a process of storytelling which is valuable for introducing issues3 though not necessarily for fully answering them.4 It starts with an old issue – lawyers’ role in tax and regulatory avoidance, which has been writ large by globalization. This leads to a discussion of the under-recognized role of lawyers in governance. The bulk of the chapter will be taken up with the discussion of three emerging issues:

1 Lawyers’ participation in asset stripping (whether to avoid tax, the payment of workers’ entitlements or the compensation for negligence).