Empirical Evidence of Values in the Professions

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Long title: 
Virtues and Values in the Professions: Empirical Evidence to Inform the Future of Legal Ethics Education
Author(s): 
Holdsworth, Michael
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Birmingham, UK
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
UK
Year: 
2014

New organizational entities for providing legal services, new qualifying routes into the profession, greater emphasis on competition and on non-traditional recruitment are illustrative of a wave of change in what might now be better described as the legal services sector than the legal profession. While these changes have implications for the knowledge and skills required of those working in the sector, this paper considers whether new regulations, new working environments and a changing workforce have consequences for the ethics of legal practice and its practitioners.
We examine these problems through three research questions, which ask: (1) which virtues and values are particularly valued in the legal profession; (2) how do these virtues and values shape professional practice and (3) what are the implications for ethics education? Using data from an on-line survey of about 800 respondents at three career stages (1st year undergraduates, completing LPC/BPTC trainees and established practitioners) and over 80 interviews, which include legal educators, regulators and members of representative bodies, we examine views on key professional values and responses to a set of ethical dilemmas. The paper provides preliminary results from this study and considers their implications for the ‘wave of change’ in the sector and what might be the consequences for initial and continuing legal education and training.

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