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Teaching Legal Ethics in Historical, Social and Cultural Context

Teaching Legal Ethics in Historical, Social and Cultural Context (Program)

José Carlos Llerena Robles, Universidad del Pacífico (Peru); Sergio Anzola, Universidad de los Andes (Colombia); Nicolas Etcheverry, Universidad de Montevideo School of Law (Uruguay) (Moderator); and Sijan Guragain, Kathmandu School of Law (Nepal) 

Teaching Legal Ethics in Historical, Social and Cultural Context

Presentations in this panel seek to approach the role and purposes of legal ethics in different contexts. By highlighting the differences and particularities of Colombia, Nepal, Perú and Uruguay, the presentations aim to explain how the domestic context is a key factor in understanding the limits, possibilities and challenges of legal ethics in these developing countries. By focusing on the relevance of particular social, economical, and cultural characteristics of these four countries, the panel aims to promote a reflection of whether the project of legal ethics can be thought as a global issue, or if it is a parochial matter highly dependent on local variables.  


Jose Carlos Llerena Robles: The Challenge of Teaching Legal Ethics in Peru

In Peru people, after politicians, don't trust in lawyers. It is usual to find a lawyer involved always in the news for bribe or corruption events. In this scenario there are many actors related with tackling this problem. My paper will analyze and explain the challenges of teaching legal ethics in Peru in order to tackle the bad reputation of our profession. First, it is important to know the Peruvian context. For such reason, in the first part of this paper we will explain the lawyer regulation in Peru, which includes the regulatory regime and also the efforts to promote legal ethics among lawyers and law students. Then we will explain and analyze the challenges in teaching legal ethics in Peru under the following categories: (i) teacher’s role, (ii) curriculum, (iii) law school, (iv) students, and (v) profession. Finally, we will present some proposals and recommendations in order to improve legal ethics teaching.

Sergio Anzola
: Understanding the Silence of Legal Ethics in Columbian Legal Culture: Insights from Psychoanalysis

The particular phenomenon of the clash between personal ethics and ethics of role experienced by practicing lawyers has been widely documented and discussed in American legal ethics scholarship.  However, Colombian legal scholarship has not undertaken any efforts to talk or write about legal ethics in general or the tensions experienced by Colombian lawyers between personal ethics and ethics of role in particular. Taking this scenario as a premise, my PhD project seeks to understand why legal ethics in general and the clash between personal ethics and ethics of role in particular have not been studied in a country with the second highest rate of lawyers per capita and a very poor perception of lawyers’ role in society. Instead of assuming that the lack of debate and research about legal ethics is a normal development in the Colombian legal culture, or in inquisitorial systems, I propose to understand this particular and very odd silence as a symptom in the psychoanalytic sense. By using the psychoanalytical concepts of symptom, trauma and mechanisms of defense, I seek to understand how the tensions between personal ethics and ethics of role experienced by Colombian lawyers have been repressed or projected unto others. Also, I seek to trace which is the trauma experienced in the role of the lawyer that leads to this particular symptom. 

Sijan Guragain
: Analysis on Teaching Legal Ethics: Stories of South Asia

Growth in trade among South Asia countries has raised the role of lawyers exponentially. The legal profession in South Asia, unlike in West, is not the profession of choice of most intellectual and elite students. The best minds pursue careers in medical science and engineering, while 'cunning' students are considered fit for legal profession. In addition to that, the legal parlance as a whole is immature and not as rich as one sees in the West. In most parts of the region, lawyers are approached with caution and viewed as bloodsucker as opposed to the defender of rights. Students idealize making money through business (commercial law), making money by working for foreign organizations (human rights and environmental law), making money by charging percentage from clients (land law and family law) and so on. The common denominator is 'making money'. 

Simultaneously, law schools are trying to catch up with the psyche of law students and in an effort to neutralize the negative effect are coming up with 'legal ethics' as a credit course. This paper, on the above given background of professionalism in the region, endeavors to present a descriptive account of legal ethics education in the South Asian region, as well as to analyze how far its effects have been and what needs to be changed. The analysis put forward in the second part will feature legal experts, scholars, lawyers in the region and an empirical study by the author. 

Nicolas Etcheverry: Trust – Ethical And Cultural Attitude 

This paper is intended to explain, at least partially, the reasons for the approach of seeing Uruguay as a country integrated basically by people with a more untrusting mind and with a tendency to over-legislate rather than under-legislate. Our cultural Latin legacy of distrust and disorganized over-regulating spirit has been much more significant in our country than the Anglo-Saxon influence that relies on trust, diligence and personal effectiveness, as well as the trend to legislate as little as possible.

In the same way we intend to study the socio-economic causes of crime in a specific society, I will try to study the ethical and political causes of the individual and collective attitude of distrust existing in Uruguay. Our approach considers that most citizens in our country have, in general terms, a predominantly distrusting attitude, which is reluctant to changes and innovate, and that this attitude promotes the over-legislation that, apart from being significant, is complex, sometimes illogical or contradictory, and results in something chaotic for the subjects of those regulations. We will analyze this attitude from two different points of view: the individual one, which could be called the ethical attitude, and the collective or social one, which could be called the cultural attitude. The distrusting attitude described implies, as it was already stated, a) a complex over-legislation, but also, b) limited and restrained social control, c) an expensive and inefficient control system, and d) a slack and ineffective sanction system.