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Law schools and the morality of corporate law



Temple lawprof Dave Hoffman (via Bainbridge):

The big idea to agree with here is that it is a terrible fact that law deans, and law professors, continually push out the message that corporate lawyering is a less moral & desirable career path than "public interest" lawyering. The reason isn't that it makes students feel guilty (though it does) but that those students, when in practice, are probably less likely to be ethical because they've been told they've "sold out."

I noticed this last semester in my corporations class. When asked whether they would draft ethically troublesome documents, most students professed to say that they would. Why? Because by going into big firm practice in the first instance, they'd have already decided to be ethically gray. When deans (and well-meaning liberal professors) reinforce the idea that corporate practice is "corrupting and essentially random and beyond your control, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it", students are more likely to let the situation corrupt them. If instead academics were to celebrate the pro-social, professional, aspects of corporate practice, perhaps we'd have less situationally-motivated fraud.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.