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Honor As a Deficient Aspiration For "The Honorable Profession": The Lawyer as Nostromo

Submitted by Joe Hoffman on Tue, 11-10-2009
Cochran, Robert F. Jr.
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Fordham Law Review
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United States
This essay considers the strengths and weaknesses of honor as an aspiration for lawyers and the legal profession through a look at Joseph Conrad's character "Nostromo." Though Nostromo is not a lawyer, he can teach us much about lawyers. Like most lawyers, Nostromo used his talents in the service of the wealthy. One of his "clients" gave him his nickname, "Nostromo," a corruption of the Italian for "our man." The initial mystery of Nostromo is why Nostromo was so loyal to his clients. Like many lawyers, Nostromo was driven by a desire for honor. Another mystery of Nostromo is why he fell so far, so fast. Like too many lawyers, he went from being the "tried and trusty Nostromo" to being a thief. Nostromo teaches the dangers of building a life (or a profession) on the pursuit of honor. The essay explores several aspects of honor: its history as an ethic, its strengths and weaknesses as a motivator to good behavior, its relationship to character, its moral baggage, and its relationship to material interests.
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