- Jan 14, 2005
- Mechanical Designer/Project Manager
To what extent do ethics relate to a lawyer’s professional duties?
There is a consensus that ‘Ethics’, the moral principles that govern human behaviour individually and collectively are a direct result of each human being’s cultural ethos/asili combining with the programming received via their individual socioeconomic status which can vary from the nobility to the gutter, which subsequently dictates the quality of formal education they receive from England’s schools, colleges and universities also ranging from none at all to Oxbridge, significantly impacting how they perform within society’s cultural matrix; with this essay addressing the various means in which good ‘Legal Ethics’ is being projected and promoted as the norm by both the government and the judiciary through regulatory organisations with regard to the way legal professionals interact on a personal and professional level with both the public and the judiciary in the 21st century. 1
However, the general principles of ‘Legal Ethics’ aspiring to create consistently moral as opposed to amoral or immoral lawyer behaviour via Consequentialism, Rule Consequentialism, Deontology and Principlism, are in themselves theoretical ideals that aren’t easily defined or adhered to due to the real-world challenges of lawyer’s diverse range of tasks generating conflicts of interest for both lawyers and clients leading to consciously ‘good’ as opposed to ‘bad’ acts, consequences, which are both rarely as opposed to consistently straightforward to predict, generate, discern or produce like black or white.
These“Rule”, “Outcome” or “Character-based” principles 2 cannot avert genuine mistakes by lawyers and clients which can also strategically mask arch intellectual’s initiatives, subterfuge; the conscious focus by the manipulatively self-serving with regard to their own best interest by deliberately doing the wrong as opposed to right act. 4 Why, Alice Woolley in ‘Philosophical legal ethics: Ethics, morals and jurisprudence-Introduction: The legitimate concerns of legal ethics’ asserts that “Legal Ethics should never be concerned with the morality of lawyers or of clients, rather it should be concerned only with the morality of the acts lawyers or clients do [or propose to do].” 5 
Professional status in the Sciences, Technology, Medicine, the Judiciary, Education, Accountancy and most areas of human activity have governing bodies, organisations whose primary function is to maintain and enhance the quality of professional being produced, thus assuring that their members are fit for purpose, are perceived as well as truly being a benefit as opposed to blight, malignant parasite to society.
These modern governing bodies that could be viewed as the natural extension of the “Guild” system in England in the Middle Ages aren’t new to lawyers, whereas their utility of a code of conduct is comparatively new as highlighted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s [SRA] first code of conduct appearing in 1960 and the Bar Standards Board’s [BSB] Bar Handbook’s 1979 debut along with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives [CILEx] itself not being created, affiliated to the Law Society until 1st January 1963, all of which could be viewed as a somewhat desperate rearguard with regard to maintaining the “Independence” of the judiciary from government control.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether the SRA and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal [SDT], the BSB, CILEx, and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers [CLC], etc, shouldn’t just be part of the civil service, government as opposed to their current independent status, as underlined by the manner in which the Legal Services Act 2007 has placed them and all of the judiciary’s other regulatory organisations under the overall supervision of the Legal Services Board [LSB]. 6 
Additionally, due to legal professionals generally, lawyers especially being such integral components of the legal system that applies the statutes that govern and administer justice in England for everyone from the ruling elite to the underclass; significantly raises the high ethical plane on which specifically lawyers have to be seen to function as standard, comparable to the profoundly challenging ethical dilemmas medical doctors face, the crux of this essay.
With regard to solicitors and barristers, the SRA, BSB and CILEx’s similarly worded codes of conduct serve as both a guide and deterrent to lawyers either consistently deploying exemplary ethically sound behaviour towards both the public and the judiciary, or risking punitive economic sanctions including actually being struck off, removed from the Law Society Roll, Bar Register, CILEx list, etc, for serious breaches like fraud or theft. 7 
Clare Sandford-Couch & Jonathan Bainbridge (2015) “Educating towards ethical lawyers: a progress report” article details ongoing initiatives to make “Legal Ethics” a significant module in undergraduate law degrees in England, as a means of addressing this issue, actually training would-be lawyers from the outset to cope better with the so diverse means by which lawyers can find themselves in difficult conflict of interest situations, serious ethical dilemmas, and how to resolve them, despite concluding.
“First, it would appear that there are many unresolved issues of “Pedagogy v Pragmatism”. Some matters are practical, such as increased staff workloads, or staff reluctance to change their teaching or to move away from tried and tested teaching methods. Class sizes, contact time, and additional strain on often straitened university resources may also be contributory factors.” 8 
Clare Sandford-Couch and Jonathan Bainbridge truly believe that fully integrating “Ethics” modules in undergraduate law degrees is the way forward with regard to making lawyers function in a consistent ethically fair manner in their so diverse workload in the real world; whereas if just knowing about rules, regulations and laws were the answer to crimes, criminal behaviour; there would be no need for the jails worldwide or the striking off and public shaming of solicitors by the SDT, of barristers by the BSB and legal executives by the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service Disciplinary Tribunal [BTASDT] in England and Wales at regular intervals.
Case in point, in 2019 Ieuan Michael Jones, a solicitor who charged vulnerable clients high fees and fraudulently took their probate money was struck off [14/02/2020] by the SDT and ordered to pay £34,823. . David Walter Phillips a fellow partner in the same partnership was suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay costs of £14,924. 9 Keisha Hackett a solicitor working for Duncan Lewis Solicitors was struck off [03/02/2020] by the SDT and ordered to pay costs of £14,375.for failing to correctly assess an asylum seeker’s entitlement to legal aid and subsequently charging him a £2,400 fee which she paid directly into her bank account with no receipt. 10
Michael O’Maoileoin, a barrister, failed to report promptly or at all to the Bar Standards Board as required by rC65.3, that, following a SRA disciplinary hearing on 16 February 2018, that he had been struck off the Roll of Solicitors on 8 March 2018, which is why he was subsequently Disbarred by the BSB – effective from 6 June 2019 11 Barbara Hewson, a barrister, posted offensive tweets about a fellow barrister’s competence while also making allegations about his teenage daughter, which is why she was suspended by the BSB for 2 years Effective from 18 December 2019. 12 Mr. Peter Moss, a barrister who from April 2009 – April 2016 failed to pay his income tax and VAT and was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in custody; was subsequently disbarred by the BSB 27/09/2019 13 Lee Alan Sowden, a barrister, was tried and convicted of making indecent photos of children and was sentenced on 2nd November 2018 to 12 months’ imprisonment and given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order, and was also disbarred by the BSB from 3 December 2019. 14
Anisa Ahmed was found guilty by the BTASDT on 27 February 2018 of displaying poor as opposed to high standards of personal and professional conduct and also misrepresenting to her clients her professional qualifications and status. The Disciplinary Tribunal ordered immediate indefinite exclusion from membership of CILEx. 15 Raymond Spencer George Clarke was found guilty by the BTASDT on the 26th November 2019 of 3 charges with regard to engaging in legal representation, litigation and advocacy in the County Court while not being fully trained or professionally qualified to do so. The BTASDT ordered that Mr. Clarke be excluded from CILEx for 6 months and he will also not automatically be re-admitted to the Chartered Institute, will have to re-apply for membership of CILEx. 16
Concluding, the fiduciary relationship between clients seeking advice and other legal services from fully qualified legal executives, lawyer and barristers within the English legal system is based on trust in these legal professionals competence, proficiency with regard to relevant current statutes and regulations and their integrity, focus on their client’s best interest, which lawyers are supposed to temper, balance ethically with their legal duty to uphold the legal system/Justice as opposed to their own vested interests; which is why the SRA, BSB, CILEx insist on their members following their code of conduct with regard to acceptable professional behaviour towards clients and the rest of the judiciary.
Legal professionals have to actually as well appear to be consistently ethical, competent and fair, with regard to activities that range from drafting wills, individual to corporate property/asset conveyance and contracts, issuing, defending writs, and defending prosecuting civil and criminal litigation; thus providing equable access to justice for everyone as opposed to just the ruling elite. Vigilance by the SRA, BSB, CILEx and the other regulatory authorities with regard to ethical behaviour by lawyers being the only acceptable norm is vital in order to undermine the cynical conspiracy theorists who assert that the English Legal system is still just a Freemason dominated upper-class gentleman’s club; means of social control in which only the lower echelons and BAME UK citizens, etc, are constantly being convicted while also being more harshly sentenced, with longer jail terms for similar crimes to whites, as highlighted by ethnic minority groups generally being 26% of the UK’s prison population., as opposed to the leniency shown as standard to white middle and upper- class perpetrators of fraud and a diverse range of criminal activity. 17
-  Ani M (1994) YURUGU An African centered critique of European cultural thought and behaviour. By Marimba Ani (Dona Richards) Africa World Press, Inc Trenton New Jersey
-  Herring J (2017) LEGAL ETHICS Page 6 Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP United Kingdom
-  Herring J (2017) LEGAL ETHICS Page 8 - 15 Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP United Kingdom
-  Woolley A, (2010) ‘Philosophical legal ethics: Ethics, morals and jurisprudence-Introduction: The legitimate concerns of legal ethics’.
-  Herring J (2017) LEGAL ETHICS Page 41 & 77 Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP United Kingdom
-  Herring J (2017) LEGAL ETHICS Page 41 Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP United Kingdom