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Lawyers’ Professional Conduct In the Face of Political Challenge (Program)

Lynn Mather, SUNY Buffalo Law School (US) (Moderator); Sida LiuUniversity of Toronto (Canada) Julija Kiršienė, Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania); Edita Gruodyte, Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania); and Waheed Riaz, Waheed Riaz Law Associates (Pakistan)

Lawyers’ Professional Conduct In the Face of Political Challenge

How do lawyers maintain ethical values and conduct themselves professionally when confronted by political challenges? Indeed, what actually constitutes legal professionalism during a severe political crisis? This program explores such questions using empirical evidence from countries undergoing political transformation. Sida Liu will present research on “Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work,” drawing on his forthcoming book. Based on extensive interviews with lawyers across China from 2005-2015, the paper studies the everyday work and political mobilization of criminal defense lawyers and raises searching questions about law and lawyers, politics and society in China. Julija Kirsiene and Edita Gruodyte will present their new research on “The Role of a Lawyer from the Perspective of Public and Lawyers: Empirical Study in Lithuania as a Post-Soviet Country.” Using public opinion surveys and data from lawyers about Lithuanian law practice, this paper explores the changing values of professionalism, decline in public opinion about lawyers, and lawyers’ dissatisfaction with their profession.  Waheed Riaz will present research on “Change in Professional Conduct after Lawyers’ Movement in Pakistan,” focusing on the lawyers’ movement that emerged in 2007 after the forced resignation of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. With widespread participation of lawyers, this movement not only changed the professional conduct of lawyers towards the courts, but it also changed their professional conduct and legal ethics thereafter. Lynn Mather (Moderator) will situate the research reported on these countries in a wider theoretical and empirical context.

Sida Liu: Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work

This book project studies empirically the everyday work and political mobilization of defense lawyers in China. It builds upon 329 interviews across China, and other social science methods, to investigate and analyze the interweaving of politics and practice in five segments of the practicing criminal defense bar in China from 2005 to 2015. This book is the first to examine everyday criminal defense work in China as a political project. The authors engage extensive scholarship on lawyers and political liberalism across the world, from 17th-century Europe to late 20th-century Korea and Taiwan, drawing on theoretical propositions from this body of theory to examine the strategies and constraints of lawyer mobilization in China. It brings to studies of lawyers and politics a fresh perspective through its focus on everyday work and ordinary lawyering in an authoritarian context and raises searching questions about law and lawyers, politics and society, in China’s uncertain futures.

Julija Kiršienė and Edita Gruodyte: Role of a Lawyer from the Perspective of Public and Lawyers: Empirical Study in Lithuania as a Post-Soviet Country

The crisis of legal profession in the global discourse is seen as a three-dimensional problem, consisting of the changing values of professionalism, decline in public opinion about lawyers and lawyers’ dissatisfaction with their profession.

The public opinion surveys show that trust in the national justice systems in the Post-Soviet EU countries – such as Lithuania – is significantly lower in comparison to the average trust level in 28 EU member states. In other words, these surveys show that lawyers in the Post-Soviet countries do not meet the expectations of society. Academics, clients, consumer groups, and state institutions of these countries harshly criticize lawyers. They accuse them of legal nihilism, infringements of law, ignorance of ethical and moral norms, manipulation of law and the entire legal system. Moreover, a worldwide survey of 2010 conducted by the International Bar Association revealed that over 70 percent of lawyers within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) stated that corruption posed a problem in their respective jurisdictions. No other region has a higher percentage. The survey also disclosed that about 28 percent of the respondents from CIS countries "believed that more than half of lawyers in their jurisdiction would knowingly engage in transactions that could be corrupt."

Using quantitative and qualitative data of the empirical research project implemented in Vytautas Magnus University Faculty of Law in 2012-2014, we will present how legal profession in Lithuania was affected by the political and economic transformation processes. Quantitative data on the practice of the Courts of Honor in legal profession in Lithuania, including data about disciplinary violations in five legal professions (judges, attorneys, prosecutors, notaries and bailiffs), sanctions and etc., suggests that most of the ethical violations conducted by lawyers and discussed in mass media even do not reach the Courts of Honor because violating lawyers voluntarily leave their profession. Such practice allows the violator to evade negative consequences, to retain her/is good moral standing, and then later to apply to legal profession without limitations. On the other hand, qualitative data which was obtained through the qualitative interviews of the representatives of legal professions and society shows that the adversarial model of lawyering is clearly dominant in Lithuania. It should be mentioned that adversarialism often manifests itself by too zealous representation of the client, benefiting from the opposing colleagues oversight, error or incompetence, legal interpretation in clients’ favor, which sometimes turns into the manipulation of law.

Waheed Riaz: Change in Professional Conduct after Lawyers' Movement in Pakistan

Lawyers’ movement emerged in 2007 due to the demand of forced resignation by the Chief Executive of Pakistan, Pervaiz Musharaf, from the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, which subsequently turned out to be the cause for restoration of the Higher Judiciary. Every lawyer of this jurisdiction, directly or indirectly, participated in this movement, even at the stake of his professional duties and particularly legal ethics. For two years, this movement directed the conduct of lawyers to achieve the target. Lawyers contrary to their professional conduct had to shout, fight, become the victims of disrespect and subject to arrest and injury, and to the havoc some lost their life for the cause. This long standing struggle absolutely changed the professional conduct of lawyers towards the courts, state institutions, staff of the courts and more importantly towards the opponent lawyers and even the civil society. The target for restoration of the judiciary were achieved but the harshness encompassed the professional conduct of lawyers. Ethics in the professional conduct deteriorated thereafter and the intention to achieve anything positive adopted a violent way. 

This paper will give the reasons of deterioration of lawyers’ professional conduct, its effects and thereafter the efforts of the Bar Councils of the country to achieve the standards of professionalism par to the international jurisdictions.   

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