Friday, September 27, 2019

"The Lawyer is not an Algorithm": Remarks on the Ethical Responsibilities of Lawyers in Relation to Sustainability and Corruption

"Lawyers are not algorithms but are instead moral being deeply embedded in the societies they serve. The nature of that service is bounded by expectations which are autonomous of those with which other actors are burdened. To that extent lawyers cannot see themselves as amoral tools but rather as social instruments which may be utilized by social actors to protect and advance their interests. But that service is itself possible only within the constraints of the social order to which the lawyer owes her highest fidelity. Within the bounds of that fidelity everything is possible; outside of those boundaries there is nothing. Those boundaries are defined by the social order and not the client. Thus, the ethical duties of lawyers flow TO clients BUT FROM the social order. It is in that context that one may speak to the ethical obligations of lawyers in their institutional roles. And within those bounds one can better understand the ethical role of lawyers confronting issues of sustainability and corruption."
These were the organizing thoughts within which I approached the challenges for lawyers on their ethical responsibilities in relation to sustainability and corruption.

With great thanks to the amazing Sara Seck, I was delighted to have been given the opportunity think through these challenges as part of a marvelous panel organized for the Joint Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP Business Law Forum, and the Wickwire Legal Ethics Lecture, which for 2019 had as its theme “ The ethical and professional responsibilities of business lawyers: Business, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals.” The event took place at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia 26 September 2019.

What follow are the PowerPoints of my portion of that event, in which I spoke to “Sustainability and Corruption: The Role of the Lawyer in Institutional Frameworks and Corporate Transactions.”

Lecture Video may be accessed HERE.


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