Knowledge and Fidelity

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Long title: 
Knowledge and Fidelity: Considering the Relationship between the Lawyer's Role in Making Knowledge about Law Available and the Lawyer’s Duty of Fidelity to Law
Author(s): 
Tucsa, Emanuel R.
Author(s)' contact information: 
Email: emanueltucsa@osgoode.yorku.ca
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference 6
Conference location: 
City University of London
Country: 
UK
Year: 
2014

Lawyers have a special role in the creation, dissemination and usage of knowledge about law. This role is apt for exploration in an undertaking of what the philosopher Karen Jones describes as “[A] commitment to understanding the role of social relations and institutions in the production of knowledge”. The lawyer, as an actor within a legal system (whether s/he is engaged in advising, litigation, political advocacy, etc.), has the role of making knowledge about law available to citizens (especially clients), so as to make law and the legal system operative for, and accessible to, those same citizens.

I want to call attention to the ethical importance of the lawyer’s role in making knowledge about law available. Specifically, there is a need to consider the topic of fidelity to law (which deals with the question of whether, and to what extent, there is a moral obligation to obey the law) in light of the lawyer’s role in making knowledge about law available. The lawyer’s role in relation to knowledge about law and the legal system is a factor that shapes the ethical propriety of his/her show of fidelity to, or withdrawal of fidelity from, a legal system. Considering the relationship between the lawyer’s role in making knowledge about law available and his/her lawyerly duty of fidelity to law provides insights into at least two prominent ideas that are discussed in the debate around fidelity to law: (1) the way in which the duty of fidelity relates to both mundane and extraordinary legal, political and moral contexts, and (2) the notion (emphasized by Bradley Wendel) of respect for law.

Keywords: fidelity to law, political obligation, legal knowledge, legal epistemology, philosophical legal ethics.

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