ETHICS IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW by

ETHICS IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Elite lawyers who serve large corporations and important government agencies, though a small portion of the American bar, serve as ""models of legal counsel in the modern industrial system""; and Hazard, a Yale law professor, has undertaken to air some of the ethical questions they regularly confront. For example: Who exactly is the client? (A particular problem for lawyers representing organizations or agencies,) What effect has defining the client on avoiding conflict of interest? Hazard agrees that counsel may often be justified in acting, in Brandeis' phrase, as ""lawyer for the situation""--for two business partners, say, or as mediator among clients. Yet what of ""loyalty"" to one's client (a must, under the Code of Professional Responsibility)? And are there different degrees of loyalty? The book also gives modest attention (perhaps too modest) to the representation of such unpopular clients as political dissidents and business polluters. And while the Code forbids ""clearly excessive"" fees, very high fees can be justified, says Hazard, since slightly greater competence can mean wildly better results. Should the lawyer be responsible for his clients' misconduct? At some point yes, since lawyers must give ""peremptory""--do it-or-else--advice. Happily for the lawyer, what is legally acceptable is separated from what is not by general notions of right or wrong, suggesting a firm practical basis for good lawyering. While his analysis is lucid and frequently persuasive, Hazard seems afraid of absolutes; there is no overall quest for a conclusion. Moreover, in presuming his lawyers to be ethical, he seems to imply that most lawyers meet acceptable minima (a questionable proposition), or that no attorney is out-and-out bad (preposterous). This is a lean, thoughtful effort which would make useful and provocative reading for concerned laymen as well as lawyers and their clients.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1978
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press