The Ethical Identity of Law Students

A paper I have done with Catrina Denvir, Rachel Cahill-O’Callaghan, Maryam Kouchakki and Stephen Galoob  as just been published in the International Journal of the Legal Profession. The abstract gives you a flavour:

This paper uses measures of values, moral outlook and professional identity to explore the ethical and professional identity of law students. We do so in two jurisdictions, surveying 441 students studying in England and Wales and 569 students studying in the US. The survey covers the first and final years of an undergraduate law degree and the postgraduate vocational stage in England and Wales, as well as students in all years of the JD programme in the US. We explore whether law students towards the end of their legal education have ethical identities predictive of less ethical conduct than those at the beginning of their legal education; whether law students intending careers in business law have values and profiles consistent with less ethical conduct than those intending to work for government or individuals; and what factors might explain these differences in ethical outlook. Our findings suggest that ethical identity is strongly associated with gender and career intentions. They also suggest weaker moral identities for students intending to practise business law. Ultimately, our findings support a conclusion that is more nuanced than the predominant theses about the impact of legal education on student ethicality which tend to suggest legal education diminishes ethicality.

The publishers make a limited number of downloads available for free. Click here if you would like to read the whole article. First come, first served.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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