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Relational Perspectives on Ethics and the Legal Profession (Program)

Russell Pearce, Fordham Law School (US) (Moderator); David Wilkins, Harvard Law School (US); Hilary Sommerlad, University of Birmingham Law School (UK); Deborah Cantrell, University of Colorado (US); Swethaa Ballakrishnen, NYU (Abu Dhabi); and Eli Wald, University of Denver Law School (US)

Relational Perspectives on Ethics and the Legal Profession

This panel will introduce – or reintroduce  – the application of relational ethics to consider how clients’ and lawyers' conduct impacts neighbors, colleagues, and the community.  Many legal scholars have recently joined researchers from various disciplines, including neuroscience, political science and economics, in exploring relational perspectives on ethics. Relational perspectives argue that prevailing legal ethics paradigms, such as the dominant conception of the neutral partisan or professionalism proposals grounded in individualist conceptions of moral development; and legal profession scholarship, such as articles announcing the death of big law, wrongly rely on an inaccurate — and normatively inappropriate — understanding that lawyers and clients behave as atomistic individuals. The panelists, from a variety of international and multidisciplinary perspectives, will describe how relational perspectives make a significant difference in how we understand, regulate, and promote ethical conduct in the legal profession.

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