Ethics are defined as the moral principles that help govern a person’s behavior or the conduction of a certain activity. Since the dawning of civilization, laws have been used as a beacon of order in society. This goes as far back as the Code of Hammurabi, a preserved Babylonian code of law used in ancient Mesopotamia. Since then, a long-standing debate has remained the world of law. Do ethics have a place in it?
Rules are used to maintain minimal civil standards in society and they tell us what our punishment will be if we do not adhere to those edicts. They do not inform us of whether or not that is what an ethical person would do. The rule of law is grounded in principles of fairness, equality, and justice. In many scenarios, judges and lawyers have to practice proper behavior in order to maintain these characteristics. If these guidelines aren’t followed, then the rule of law will begin to unfold while public unrest would be on the rise.
The law profession can lead to many conflicts of interest because there are situations where the rule of law may go against one’s ethical beliefs. Just like health professionals are not allowed to discriminate or treat others unfairly, the lawyers have an obligation to ensure that there is no internal conflict between his beliefs and what the law states. These conflicts of interest have the capacity to exacerbate over time and can lead to serious legal proceedings, such as negligence or breach of trust.
In addition to this, there also arises the issue of potential confidentiality issues and whether or not the lawyer is double minded. There is an inherent duty within those who practice law to exhibit a level of trust that the client can rely upon. This issue of trust gets further exacerbated if the lawyer has nefarious means to what decisions he chooses to make. Whether it be intentionally misleading the court or other forms of manipulation, ethical dilemmas typically arise because there is a gross lack of transparency.
Discussing the role of ethics in law ultimately remains fruitless if the honorable nature of the law profession isn’t the initial point of concern. As the topic continues to gain traction, it is important the integrity isn’t compromised.