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Comparative and Empirical Assessment of Ethical Values of Asian Law Students

Comparative and Empirical Assessment of Ethical Values of Asian Law Students (Program)

Richard Wu, University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) (Moderator); Grace Leung, Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong); Adrian Evans, Monash University Faculty of Law (Australia); and Mohd Yazid Bin Zul Kepli, International Islamic University (Malaysia)

Comparative and Empirical Assessment of Ethical Values of Asian Law Students

This panel undertakes a comparative and empirical study of the ethical values of Asian law students. This topic is significant because lawyers play an important role in the administration of justice and information about their values can help us in assessing the quality of justice and legal systems involved. Moreover, a study of law students’ values can help us predict their future behaviors and ethical decision-making in legal practice. However, there has been a paucity of research into the values of Asian lawyers or law students.

This panel attempts to evaluate what values are empirically important in determining the decisions of Asian law students towards similar scenarios containing ethical dilemmas. It brings together legal ethics scholars from the Australasian-East Asian region to discuss the preliminary findings from a survey instrument adapted from a similar study of the Australian law students’ values undertaken by Evans and Palermo (2002). They will also explore the differences in value orientations of law students and possible gender differences in the value hierarchies of Asian law students in these Asian jurisdictions.

This panel will be relevant to legal scholars interested in the values of Asian law students and lawyers. It will promote debates on professional socialization of law schools and the value systems of law students in the Asian region. It will also contribute to the teaching of legal ethics and professionalism as well as the reform of law school curricula in Asia.

Acknowledgement: The research for the papers in this panel was fully supported by General Research Fund (Project Nos. HKU750913H and 17410914) of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong


Grace Leung: Comparing Law Students’ Ethical Values in Hong Kong and Australia: Two Common Law Jurisdictions in the Asian Pacific Region

Recent literature on legal ethics, professionalism and legal education has shown that little work is done on studying and comparing the ethical values of law students in the Asian Pacific Region. This paper reports on the empirical findings of a study on the ethical values of Hong Kong students, which is part of a wider study of the values of law students in the Asian Pacific Region. It adapted a questionnaire from the study of values of Australian law students by Evans and Palermo (2002) and sought the responses that Hong Kong law students made to eight scenarios containing different ethical dilemmas. It then compares the findings with the responses of their Australian counterparts.

This paper evaluates what values are empirically important in determining the decisions of law students in Hong Kong and Australia towards similar scenarios containing ethical dilemmas. It also compared the value orientations of law students and gender differences in the value hierarchies of law students in Hong Kong and Australia, two common law jurisdictions in the Asian Pacific Region.

This paper is significant as it represents the first empirical legal research project undertaken on comparing the values of law students in Hong Kong and Australia. It contributes to academic discourse on professional socialization of law schools and value system of law students in the Asian Pacific Region, and also contributes to the teaching of legal ethics and professionalism as well as the reform of law school curriculum in the Asian Pacific Region.

Acknowledgement: The research for this paper was fully supported by General Research Fund (Project No.17410914) of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong

Richard Wu and Zul Kepli, Mohd Yazid Bin: Comparing Law Students’ Values in Hong Kong and Malaysia: Two Common Law Jurisdictions in Southeast Asia

Recent literature on legal ethics, professionalism and legal education has shown that little work is done on studying and comparing the ethical values of law students in Southeast Asia. This paper reports on the empirical findings of a study on the ethical values of Hong Kong and Malaysian law students, which is part of a wider study of the values of law students in the Asian Region adapting a questionnaire from the study of values of Australian law students by Evans and Palermo (2002). The paper sought and compared the responses that Hong Kong and Malaysian law students made to eight scenarios containing different ethical dilemmas.

This paper evaluates what values are empirically important in determining the decisions of law students in Hong Kong and Malaysia towards similar scenarios containing ethical dilemmas. It also compares the value orientations of law students and gender differences in the value hierarchies of law students in Hong Kong and Malaysia, two common law jurisdictions in Southeast Asia.

This paper is significant as it represents the first empirical legal research project undertaken on comparing the values of law students in Hong Kong and Malaysia. It contributes to academic discourse on professional socialization of law schools and value system of law students in the Asian Region, and also contributes to the teaching of legal ethics and professionalism as well as the reform of law school curriculum in the Asian Region.

Acknowledgement: The research for this paper was fully supported by General Research Fund (Project No.17410914) of the Research Grants of Hong Kong

Grace Leung and Natalie Lai: Gender and Values in a Transforming Society: An Empirical Study of Future Woman Lawyers in China

Men and women hold different reasoning and value systems, and women are assumed to be “more ethical than men” (Jackall, 1988). In spite of research attempting to prove such claims, the findings have remained mixed and divided (Schwartz, 1998). Previous literature also reflect a paucity of empirical research on gender and values of Asian law students and lawyers. This study adopted a questionnaire from Australian study of Evans and Palermo (2002) to assess law students’ ethical values in Mainland China, one of the fastest growing and changing country in Asia and the world. This paper reports on the findings of the study on the gender differences in value priorities of Mainland Chinese law students.

This paper discusses the struggle of female law students in Mainland China, and studies how they prioritize their ethical values. It first examines how the existing literature looks at gender and values, which is followed by the analysis of the empirical data collected for this study. The paper then discusses the data collected through in-depth interviews with female law students in Mainland China, and evaluates the difficulties they have encountered in their career pursuit because of gender, as well as the influences and obstacles encountered by these future Chinese women lawyers on their value formation.

The findings suggest that stable but situational gender differences exist in the value ranking of Mainland Chinese law students. In particular, the women respondents ranked achievement-oriented values significantly higher than their male counterparts. Such findings shed light on future gender and value studies in China, and gender differences on value hierarchies is a fertile research area in the Greater China and Asian Regions.

Acknowledgement: The research for this paper was fully supported by General Research Fund (Project No.HKU750913H) of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong

Richard Wu: An Empirical Study of Law Students’ Values in Hong Kong and Singapore: The Fragrant Harbour and the Lion City

Recent literature on legal ethics, professionalism and legal education has shown that little work is done on studying and comparing the ethical values of law students in Hong Kong and Singapore. This paper reports on the empirical findings of a study on the ethical values of Hong Kong and Singaporean law students undertaken by the author and Helena Whalen Bridges, Associate Professor of Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, which is part of a study of the values of law students in three Asian common law jurisdictions and adapting a questionnaire from the study of values of Australian law students by Evans and Palermo (2002). The paper sought and compared the responses that Hong Kong and Singaporean law students made to eight scenarios containing different ethical dilemmas.

This paper evaluates what values are empirically important in determining the decisions of law students in Hong Kong and Singapore towards similar scenarios containing ethical dilemmas. It also compares the value orientations of law students and gender differences in the value hierarchies of law students in Hong Kong and Singapore, two common law jurisdictions in Asia.

This paper is significant as it represents the first empirical legal research project undertaken on comparing the values of law students in Hong Kong and Singapore. It contributes to academic discourse on professional socialization of law schools and value system of law students in the Asian Region, and also contributes to the teaching of legal ethics and professionalism as well as the reform of law school curriculum in the Asian Region.

Acknowledgement: The research for this paper was fully supported by General Research Fund (Project No.17410914) of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong

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