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Global Comparisons Regarding When and How to Teach Ethics (Program)

Sam Erugo, Abia State University, Uturu (Nigeria); Jane Power, University of Notre Dame (Australia); Asha Bajpai, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (India) (Moderator); Monique van de Griendt, Dialogue (Netherlands); Hein Karskens, Beroepsopleiding Advocaten (Netherlands); and Mick Veldhuijsen, Beroepsopleiding Advocaten (Netherlands)

Global Comparisons Regarding When and How to Teach Ethics

Coming from different global perspectives, the presenters of this session admit that the competence of a lawyer must integrate requisite knowledge, skill and values. Ethics is one of those values that a lawyer must imbibe through teaching and learn to live with, in and out of practice. The lawyer must accept social responsibility and a strong professional ethic – a commitment to the integrity and working of the legal system. Years of legal education and continuing professional development must create, above all, a socially sensitive lawyer of conscience, for whom justice for all is the mission. Lawyers and legal academics are becoming extremely aware of how crucial it is to teach ethics. The challenge is as to when and how to teach ethics to future lawyers with measurable assurance of lasting assimilation and preparedness to competently resolve future conflicting ethical issues and dilemmas.

The session will consider the importance of ethics education, role of ethics in practice and the dilemma of conflicting ethical rules and choices. It will focus on the trend in ethics teaching, including content and timing of the curriculum, as well as the impact of recent reforms. Those attending will come away with ideas to implement standard curriculum at their universities. They will also participate in a short discussion sharing experiences of integrating ethics into their curriculum. Presenters look forward to meaningful contribution from participants.


Sam Erugo: Teaching Ethics: The Challenge of Methodology and Conflicting Rules

The goal of legal education includes training of competent lawyers. Admittedly, the competence of a lawyer must integrate requisite knowledge, skill and values. Ethics is one of those values that a lawyer must imbibe and learn to live with in and out of practice. Appropriate legal education must inculcate relevant ethics in the lawyer. The challenge is how to teach professional ethics to future lawyers with measurable assurance of lasting assimilation; and preparedness to competently resolve future ethical issues and dilemmas.

The traditional approach to legal education taught ethics by recitation of the rules of professional conduct. It offered nothing beyond the theoretical lectures, dictation and note-taking. In Nigeria, this lesson was delivered during the one year professional vocational training at the law school. That was hardly enough training. Consequently, the trainee lawyer was let loose unethically unprepared for the ethical dilemmas of practice. Most of them had to learn from own or others’ mistakes in practice and many never learnt the ethics well enough. It is widely accepted that a critical part of learning about ethical rules lies in understanding how they apply in practice, and being immersed in that practice. The introduction of clinical legal education with suited variety of experiential learning methods brought opportunities for effective teaching and assessment of clinical student’s appreciation of ethics in simulated, practical or live cases. But there is the further challenge of perplexing ethical dilemmas of conflicting ethical rules.

This paper explores dimensions of conflicting ethical rules seeking to share experience.

Jane Power:Too Little, Too Late – Not Ethics!

Atticus Finch or Denny Crane? Lawyers and legal academics are becoming extremely aware of how crucial it is to teach ethics to law students. Ethical breaches by newer graduates are not so often caused by a ‘bad’ lawyer as much as an inexperienced one. Awareness and understanding of ethical issues should begin in Law School.

The law curriculum at the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle campus) firmly believes in early education. First year law students must complete a unit of 7 weeks instruction from a philosopher grounding students in an understanding of moral philosophy. In the final 6 weeks a law academic targets ethics in law and service learning - introducing students to some of the self – regulation legislation of the local profession and ethical obligations to marginalized groups needing legal assistance.

Final year students complete another compulsory unit that includes legal ethics and a more in-depth knowledge of the regulatory framework. To compliment this topping and tailing of ethical instruction in the curriculum, tutorial and assessment questions may include ethical ‘situations’ that students learn to identify.

This presentation defines the content and timing of the curriculum to illustrate how education at tertiary level empowers new law graduates to be more ethically aware and responsible; including student feedback on the curriculum. Those attending will come away with ideas to implement a similar curriculum at their universities. They will also participate in a short discussion sharing experiences of integrating ethics into their curriculum.

Asha Bajpai: Legal Education Reforms and Legal Ethics in India

The Indian lawyer must not only have improved legal skills but most importantly, must embody social responsibility, a strong professional ethic and a commitment to the integrity and working of the legal system. Years of legal education and continuing professional development must create, above all, a socially sensitive lawyer of conscience, one for whom justice for all is the mission. Law is not only a career choice or a commercial opportunity, but a means of empowerment of society through ethical means. This paper will present an overview of the current scenario of legal education in India and highlight the gaps. The subheading will be: 1) The gaps in legal education in India; 2) The making of an LLM in Access to justice Program; 3)The process and content challenges in implementation of the curriculum; 4) The role of ethics in the classroom and in the field; 5) conflicts and choices; and 6) The way forward with reforms in legal education, including inclusion, access and ethics.

Monique van de Griendt, Hein Karskens and Mick Veldhuijsen: Teaching Ethics to Young Lawyers in The Netherlands

In 2013 the Dutch Bar Association renewed the required Legal Profession Course. During the first 3 years of their legal career, young lawyers have to follow the Legal Profession Course. The programme exists of courses, training, e-learning and exams in legal subjects, legal ethics and lawyers skills. In the cognitive education and the skills training, ethical dilemmas are included. The Course starts with a 2 day conference on Legal Ethics where young lawyers are learning legal ethics on an interactive way. In this programme we explain the content of the legal ethics education of young lawyers and we will demonstrate the interactive way legal ethics are taught in the Netherlands.

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