Current Legal Problems Lecture Series 2013-14
Precarious Professionalism -
Some evidence on Market, State and Lawyer Utopias
Professor Richard Moorhead, UCL
Chaired by Mr Justice Blair
Thursday 6 March 2014
from 6 - 7pm
Since the era of Margaret Thatcher, and her much admired Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the legal profession has found itself under increasing scrutiny and pressure. Legal Aid and legal market reform began then but has been significantly accelerated by the creation of the Legal Services Board. Professional power has decreased and the influence of the market increased. State – or rather politician - hostility to lawyers and fiscal retrenchment has led to a reduction in legal aid and concerted attempts to weaken lawyer and court roles in the resolution of disputes. Globalisation and the growth of large law firms has increased the extent to which law is seen as a business rather than a profession. Market reform and the recession have shed a harsher light on the economics and ethics of large law firms.
For many, the market and the State are combining to squeeze out professionalism. The evidence, however, paints a much more complicated picture. This lecture will outline that evidence, including some new evidence on the ethical consciousness of commercial lawyers. It will argue that professionalism is precarious - demonstrably so - but also that the blame lies with markets, with the State, and with lawyers themselves.
Biography of the speaker
Richard Moorhead took up the first Chair in Law and Professional Ethics at University College London, Faculty of Laws, in 2012. He is also the Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law. He work focuses on lawyers´ ethics, professional competence, the regulation of legal services and access to justice. Often employing empirical methods, he has conducted a wide range of studies, including for the Ministry of Justice, Legal Services Board, Civil Justice Council, and the Law Society.
He has been a member of the Civil Justice Council and the Lord Chancellor´s Advisory Committee on Legal Ethics, the Legal Services Consultative Panel. He has also served as Specialist Adviser to what is now the Justice Select Committee. He sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of the Legal profession and the advisory board of the Journal and Law and Society.
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