5 Hum. Rts. 1 (1975-1976)
Lawyers as Professionals: Some Moral Issues; Wasserstrom, Richard

handle is hein.journals/huri5 and id is 9 raw text is: Articles
LAWYERS AS PROFESSIONALS:
SOME MORAL ISSUES
RICHARD WASSERSTROM*
In this paper I examine two moral criticisms of lawyers which, if
well-founded, are fundamental. Neither is new but each appears
to apply with particular force today. Both tend to be made by those
not in the mainstream of the legal profession and to be rejected by
those who are in it. Both in some sense concern the lawyer-client
relationship.
The first criticism centers around the lawyer's stance toward the
world at large. The accusation is that the lawyer-client relationship
renders the lawyer at best systematically amoral and at worst more
than occasionally immoral in his or her dealings with the rest of
mankind.
The second criticism focuses upon the relationship between the
lawyer and the client. Here the charge is that it is the lawyer-client
relationship which is morally objectionable because it is a relation-
ship in which the lawyer dominates and in which the lawyer typi-
cally, and perhaps inevitably, treats the client in both an impersonal
and a paternalistic fashion.
To a considerable degree these two criticisms of lawyers derive,
I believe, from the fact that the lawyer is a professional. And to
the extent to which this is the case, the more generic problems I
will be exploring are those of professionalism generally. But in
some respects, the lawyer's situation is different from that of other
professionals. The lawyer is vulnerable to some moral criticism that
does not as readily or as easily attach to any other professional.
And this, too, is an issue that I shall be examining.'
* B.A. 1957, Amherst College; M.A. 1958, Ph.D. 1960, University of Michi-
gan; LL.B. 1960, Stanford. Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, Uni-
versity of California School of Law, Los Angeles. This article is a revised ver-
sion of a lecture given at Amherst College in 1974 as a part of the Copeland
Colloquium series on morality and the professions.
I Because of the significance. for my analysis of the closely related concepts
of a profession and a professional, it will be helpful to indicate at the outset what
I take to be the central features of a profession.
But first there is an ambiguity that must be noted so that it can be dismissed.
There is one sense of professional and hence of profession with which I am
not concerned. That is the sense in which there are in our culture, professional

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